Through the first three games of the season nobody expected the Detroit Lions defense to be dominant, but it’s not even below average. It’s down right “bottom-of-the-barrel.”
On Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, Detroit’s defense gave up 555 total yards. For context, Seattles offense, before this matchup, ranked 26th in total yards-per-game, 21st in passing ypg, 28th in rushing ypg and 27th in points-per-game.
The Lions allowed that offense to score 48 points, which is the most by any team this season. Seattle converted nine third downs out of 12 and did not punt a single time.
“I got a lot of faith in Aaron Glenn, I got a ton of faith in those assistants,” said Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell in Sunday’s post game press conference. “I think more than anything, maybe it’s time for a deep dive, you know, a real deep dive into it, the players, everything that we’re doing.”
Every time this Lions defense felt a slight shift in momentum it was quickly turned Seattles way.
Of course, it wasn’t all Detroit’s fault. In the third quarter they were trailing 31-23, they had just stopped Seattle to force a fourth down. Instead officials said there was an issue with the game clock, therefore repeating the third down. That repeat play resulted in an immediate touchdown for the Seahawks.
Seattle receiver DK Metcalf, who had struggled coming into todays game, torched Detroit’s secondary with 149 yards on seven receptions. He had more yards in this game than he had combined through three games.
The loss of Tracy Walker III, hurts the Lions secondary immensely. Kerby Joseph got his first start of his career and it showed. Joesph’s presence in the backfield was non existent, he had four tackles and allowed two touchdowns.
Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye struggled in coverage against Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Neither receivers were able to find the end zone, but both combined for 240 yards.
Oruwariye was saved a few times, by missed throws from Seattle quarterback Geno Smith. Lockett could’ve had at least 50 more yards and a touchdown if Smith wouldn’t have overthrown the football. Oruwariye got turned around and was in no position to stop the play.
Detroit Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone looked 10 steps behind on every screen/dump pass Seattle ran.
Detroit was only able to defend three passes all game, according to PFF.
Rashaad Penny, Seattles starting running back, also torched the Lions for 151 yards and two touchdowns off 17 carries. Every time Penny was handed the ball, all he had to do was make one man miss, then he was gone. His last touchdown was also the score that sealed Detroit’s fate.
With just over two minutes left in the game it was 3rd and five for Seattle, at Detroit’s 41 yard line. All the defense had to do was make only their fourth stop on third down. That didn’t happen. Instead defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn called anther blitz, which he payed for. Penny made one move to bounce to the outside and brought it 41 yards, to the house.
There really was no pressure for Smith to deal with. Detroit did not get a single sack all game. Every time Smith felt the pocket collapsing, he evaded the pressure. Smith did this well, he racked up 49 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.
Just when it looked like rookie Aidan Hutchinson was going to get the Lions first sack, Smith was able to sling it 34 yards downfield to a wide-open Lockett.
The only bright spot for this defense was Malcolm Rodriguez. He tied the team high with 11 tackles, he had eight solo tackles, a forced fumble on special teams and a tackle-for-loss. In the third quarter he also nearly sacked Smith, but forced him to throw the ball, resulting in an, intentional grounding penalty.
Rodriguez was also very close to getting his coveted first interception of his career off a tip.
This defense is young, inexperienced and lacking talent. Glenn has his word cut out for him, in order to prepare this group for a road game against the New England Patriots next Sunday.
Photo Credit: Junfu Han – USA TODAY NETWORK