Despite an important win for the Detroit Lions, there was a glaring issue with their secondary’s coverage against the New York Jets.
The Lions absolutely stuffed the Jets run game, allowing only 50 yards on 22 total carries. The pass game was another story.
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson threw for 317 yards on 18-35, with two touchdowns and an interception.
For context, Wilson, the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, lost his starting job two weeks ago. He only started because his back-up that won the job, Mike White, fractured his rib. Wilson has started in eight total games this season and is bottom of the league in nearly every quarterback stat. In his last start in November, he threw for 77 yards, on 22 attempts and nine completions.
Wilson wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, but, Detroit’s secondary allowed him to look much better than he played. The Lions gave up long pass, after long pass, and it nearly cost them.
A creative offensive play call for the Lions took tight end Brock Wright 51 yards to the house. It was the longest play of the game and won it for Detroit.
After that play, the Lions were ahead of the Jets 20-17 with 1:49 left in the fourth quarter. On the Jets finals drive of the game it was third and 19, the Lions allowed a 22-yard reception and a first down. Next, on fourth down with 14 seconds left in the game, Wilson connected with Elijah Moore on a 20 yard reception, getting them in field goal range. The Jets missed the game tying kick but, blown coverage almost cost them.
Detroit’s secondary allowed seven passes of 20 or more yards, which included a 40-yard and 50-yard completions.
Another issue that hasn’t shown up the past few weeks was penalties. There were three defensive pass interference penalties called on Detroit’s secondary on Sunday. Only one was enforced, but the corners and safeties struggled to keep their receivers in front of them.
Detroit Lions rookie safety Kerby Joseph did not look good in this one. He allowed both touchdowns Jets touchdowns. First was a 40-yard deep ball to Garrett Wilson, the second was a one yard pass to C.J. Uzomah. For his sake, the second touchdown wasn’t as much of his fault as it was the play callers fault. Jospeh would finish with six total tackles (four solo) and no pass deflections.
Another Lion that struggled was cornerback Jeff Okudah. It seemed as though the Jets were challenging Okudah on every other pass attempt, and it worked for most of the game. He also finished with six total tackles (four solo) but had two pass deflections.
A positive in the secondary was Jerry Jacobs. He got his first career interception on a wild throw, and was generally solid in his coverage for most of the game. He finished with two solo tackles and two pass deflections.
Lions safety, DeShon Elliott almost got an interception too. Wilson threw a sky high “wounded duck” but somehow Elliot lost his footing and was unable to get Detroit’s second takeaway of the game. On the following play, he would go down and not return to the game. He finished with six total tackles (five solo) and one tackle for loss.
This shouldn’t be something to worry about in the future. Okudah has been very reliable and consistent in his coverage lately, so expect him to bounce back next week. Joseph is a rookie with a huge job as the last line of defense, so mistakes will happen, but he’s still learning the position. Elliott’s premature exit is concerning, but time will tell the extent of his injury.
Ultimately, the Detroit Lions won and kept their playoff hopes alive. Now they sit at 7-7 on the year with three games left. A game like this was bound to happen. Fortunately for them, they’ve proved they can still win while not playing their best.
Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta – USA TODAY Sports
Photo Edit: Noah Wulbrecht – Woodward Sports