Lions defense is a mess, and there are no quick fixes

Lions Titans Football
Posted at 8:21 AM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 08:21:08-05

ALLEN PARK - Do you have any previous experience fixing a terrible defense? That might be one of the most important questions Lions President Rod Wood asks prospective general manager and head coaching candidates.

The Lions' 46-25 loss to the Tennesse Titans Sunday showed everything that is wrong with the team’s defense. Tennesse scored on seven of its 10 possessions. Titans running back Derrick Henry pounded the Lions defense all game long, piling up 147 yards in rushing. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill added insult to the injured Lions’ defense by running for two touchdowns.

Even quarterback Matthew Stafford acknowledged the defense’s troubles, telling reporters after the game, “Yeah we knew we were going to have to score a lot of points in this game.”

“It was a long day for our guys,” said interim head coach Darrell Bevell. “Obviously our guys are guys are frustrated. They can do better.”

That remains to be seen. Realistically, the Lions can’t do much worse against opposing offenses. In NFL defensive rankings, Detroit is 28th in both yards allowed per game and points. The Lions rank 27th out of 32 teams in rushing yards (132.8) allowed per game. So a team like the Titans, which has one of the NFL’s premier running backs in Derrick Henry, can take control of the game. That didn’t exactly happen Sunday but the Lions still lost by 21 points.

“We’re down some guys we know that,” said Stafford. “But that’s a really talented offense.”

The defensive line has been decimated all season long with injuries. Defensive end Da’Shawn Hand was placed on injured reserve Saturday after he injured an ankle against Green Bay. Cornerback Alex Myres was elevated from the practice squad and recorded five tackles. He also got stiff-armed to the ground on national television by Henry.

“We’re not going to use (the injuries) as an excuse,” said Bevill. “These guys love playing football all the way down to Alex Myres. He wants to put a good effort on tape for himself.”

The one big bright spot on defense continues to be defensive end Romeo Okwara. He sacked Tannehill in the Titans' endzone for a safety in the second quarter. The sack was Okwara’s eighth of the season. The safety added another big play on Okwara’s resume this season. Three weeks ago, he forced Chicago quarterback Mitch Trubisky to fumble late in the game. The Lions recovered the ball and eventually scored for an unexpected victory.