One of the weaker areas for the Detroit Lions last season was kick and punt coverage. They frequently gave up big returns, and through two preseason games this year, it's clear things haven't gotten better. Last week against the Cleveland Browns, the Lions gave up a 45-yard punt return, and on Friday night against the Baltimore Ravens, the Lions gave up a 55-yard kick return and an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown. Both returns for the Ravens were called back because of penalties, but that doesn't change the fact that poor coverage and bad tackling allowed them to happen.
Following Friday's game, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz made it known that things have to change with the special teams cover units. And by change, he means that players are going to be replaced if they don't start improving. From MLive:
"We got to find better players to be able to execute," Schwartz said. "You can do all the drills you want, but if a guy can't make a play, he can't make a play. We got to find guys who can kickoff cover and punt cover. We were poor in those areas.
"We got lucky because of a couple of penalties, but we were lucky."
The Lions added a lot of guys in the draft this year that were expected to help the cover units, but so far there hasn't been any improvement from last season. These units got much better when Danny Crossman took over as the special teams coordinator in 2010, but it's been all downhill since that season. While Schwartz is clearly placing the blame on players not executing, one has to wonder if Crossman will be on the hot seat if these units continue to struggle.