The Detroit Lions are 3-6 and falling fast. If the problems with the team were nice and simple, you’d like to think the coaching staff—even as green as they are—would be able to make some progress in chipping away at those issues.
Unfortunately for Detroit, there are a lot of things wrong with the team right now, and no turnaround seems imminent. I’m not sure it’s fair to say head coach Matt Patricia is in over his head, but it’s also clear that his work is cut out for him not just this year but likely for next, as well.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
What is the Lions’ biggest problem right now?
My answer: I think the biggest thing holding this Detroit Lions team back is their inability to defend the pass in any sort of way. Patricia and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni have said multiple times this year that pass defense relies on the cooperation between the pass rushing abilities of your front seven combined with the play of the secondary. Unfortunately for the Lions, they don’t do either of those things particularly well, and the results are disastrous.
Detroit ranks 31st in passer rating allowed (116.8), 31st in yards per attempt allowed (8.9) and 27th in completion percentage (69.0). Ouch.
Admittedly, teams can succeed in today’s NFL without a proper pass defense. The Saints (108.8) and Rams (98.9) both rank in the bottom 10 in passer rating allowed, but are considered two of the best teams in league. Obviously, the Lions don’t have an offense at those levels where they can compensate for such a poor defense, which, again, points to how complicated this team’s issues right now. But it all comes back to that pass defense right now.
The league is getting more and more successful through the air, and the Lions are getting worse and worse at defending it. I hate to say it, but we haven’t seen a pass defense this bad in Detroit since 2008. Granted, the league was much different a decade ago, but their stats back then were actually slightly better: 110.9 passer rating, 8.8 yards per attempt and 68.4 completion percentage.
Pass rushers and defensive backs need to be a high priority for this team next year.