Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin knew the question was coming. For the second straight week, the Lions had sent out just 10 players on the field. On Sunday, it proved particularly costly, as Vikings running back Dalvin Cook ran through the shorthanded defense for 70-yard touchdown.
Last week, after it happened twice, Undlin called it “poor, poor coaching.” This week, he upped the self-critique.
“It’s embarrassing is what it is,” Undlin said. “And I would say this, it’s poor coaching is what it is.”
Okay, maybe it’s just some of the same lip service.
But Undlin had the courtesy to explain what exactly is going wrong. Here’s basically how the chain of command works on every single snap:
The coaches in the booth relay to him what personnel the opposing offense has out there. It’s then his job to call the corresponding personnel on defense. From there, it’s the position coaches’ job to get the right players out there in time. Where exactly the breakdown has been happening, Undlin wasn’t going to say. Instead, he took it on the chin for the entire coaching group.
“When you have 10 guys out there then obviously there was a miscommunication at some point on somewhere down the line. That’s it. It’s poor coaching,” Undlin said.
Diagnosing the problem is important, but fixing it is paramount. One Lions player, defensive captain Duron Harmon, said he was going to take it upon himself to make sure it never happens again.
“I’ll count every time I’m out there,” Harmon said earlier in the week. “If that’s what it’s got to come down to, until I get to a point where I feel I don’t got to count no more. I’m the leader on the defense.”
But Undlin isn’t having any of that.
“Duron’s got enough stuff on his plate,” the Lions defensive coordinator said. “He doesn’t need to be counting guys on the field.”
Alright, then what’s the solution here? Undlin didn’t give many specifics, but he’s taking the mission on himself.
“The remedy is to not let it happen again, and I know I said that last week, and I failed you guys at that. I failed the players at that. Ultimately, it comes back to me. That’s how it goes down. Coaches got to get their guys out there, we’ve got to be on the same page, and we’ve got to make sure that we communicate to them on the sideline before the series starts so everybody knows. It’s bad coaching.”