The Detroit Lions have a defensive problem. Well, technically it’s a vast collection of problems that could inspire Jay-Z to write a sequel to one of his most famous songs.
It’s hard to come up with a solution to 99 different problems on Aaron Glenn’s failing unit, but we can at least isolate three solutions that will help clean up the NFL’s worst defense.
Bench Michael Brockers for Demetrius Taylor
It’s tough to call out the veteran leader of the defensive line, but Michael Brockers needs to accept the reality that he’s a lot more of the problem than the solution for Detroit’s poor performances and lack of pressure up front.
Through four games, Brockers has four total tackles. None of those are behind the line of scrimmage. He’s generated two QB pressures according to Pro Football Focus’s tracking, a number that passes the eye and sniff tests.
Granted the depth chart is thin right now with John Cominsky sidelined after recent wrist surgery and no apparent return in sight from Levi Onwuzurike. But it’s clear Brockers will not be part of the long-term solution. Let’s instead see if rookie Demetrius Taylor can be part of it.
Taylor earned his roster spot by being consistently disruptive throughout training camp and the preseason and not needing schematic help to create chaos inside. That’s exactly what the Lions need right now in pass defense. Taylor is undersized (6-1/295) and struggled in run defense, but it’s not like Brockers — or really anyone — is doing well there.
Stop being predictable with the pressures
Being aggressive is what Glenn wants to be, but he’s often reckless in his efforts to pressure the offense. He’s also predictable, and there is no better example than the game-clinching TD run by Rashaad Penny late in Sunday’s game.
It’s 3rd-and-5 and Glenn does what he seemingly always does on third downs: he loads the box and brings extra pressure. But there isn’t purpose to the pressure other than trying to make the offense panic. Geno Smith and the Seahawks instead anticipated the blitz look and had a play ready to roll that expertly countered what Glenn’s design was set to do.
Seattle couldn't have ran – and executed – a more perfect play call than the final 41-yard touchdown run to clinch the game. Picture perfect counter trey with pulling left tackle and left guard out in front of Rashaad Penny. pic.twitter.com/Zcaj6QlfuR
— Corbin K. Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) October 3, 2022
Why did Seattle make such a perfect play call? Because three other times in the last two weeks in similar situations, Glenn has made the same base call in the same base situation. The details change a little from play to play, but the 7-man box with a single-high safety and press-man coverage outside is Glenn’s default formation on third downs where the run might come into play. In the first quarter, Geno Smith hit TE Colby Parkinson on a designed bootleg flare route for an easy conversion off the same type of Lions defensive action.
If B Chris Board (49) isn’t stacked at the line of scrimmage feigning a blitz look, he’s not so easily fooled into being sucked inside. If safety DeShon Elliott isn’t able to touch the nose tackle at the snap, he’s at least got an angle to get out and make a tackle attempt. If the outside CBs aren’t playing tight and turning their backs to the play to try and keep up with the receivers, maybe they see a run earlier and can come up and make a play. It’s a time for zone, a time for more read-and-react. Glenn consistently gets caught trying to steal the eggs from the henhouse after the rooster is wide awake.
This kind of action happens way too often against Glenn’s defense. When Dan Campbell talked about simplifying the defense, this is precisely what he’s talking about. Stop being overly aggressive and predictable with it. You’re not Rob Ryan, coach Glenn, stop emulating him…