I have to admit I'm losing hope for the Lion's defense to turn the corner this season. It simply looks like we're over-matched. Perhaps it's lack of experience, or simply just not enough talent. Learning that the top rookie defensive players (McNeill, Onwuzurike, and Barnes) didn't play a lot or even any downs also means that the coaches think they're simply not ready yet - and that really lessens my hope.
Two back-to-back 30-something scores against us shouldn't mean the season is totally lost, but there simply isn't that much to believe that the defensive line can get the job done. Romeo Okwara had late pressures that didn't mean much, Trey Flowers simply isn't creating any tide-turning pressure either, and Jamie Collins and Tony Anzalone seem overmatched and outplayed at linebacker, and without these two groups playing well, I just don't believe that the young secondary will be able to keep QBs from consistently marching their teams down the field at will.
Losing Jeff Okudah was a big hit. As a #3 overall pick, he is supposed to make a difference. So far he's been a big non-factor. Two lost years out of a 4 year rookie deal means he has a lot to prove, if he can, to be a long term keeper. That seems unlikely or improbable at best. Bobby Price, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Jerry Jacobs, and AJ Parker seem to be our long term hopes, but they're so green now, it's going to be painful to watch them for awhile.
Grading it all out, Edges D; Interior D-Line D; Linebackers D; Corners D; and, Safeties D. Am I being too harsh? I think giving up 30+ points simply means they aren't getting the job done. Earning C's would mean they had stops when they needed them, but that hasn't been there much, if at all. Earning B's would mean that they get lots of stops. Earning A's would mean they had stops, sacks, interceptions, take-aways, and maybe even provide scoring. Conversely, E's are perhaps merited if they play any worse than they are currently - perhaps giving up 500 or more yards per game and 40 points would put them in that class.
Any changes possible? I simply don't see it coming around unless the rookies - all the rookies just blossom into a whole lot more. McNeill, Onwuzurike, Barnes, Melifonwu, Parker, Jacobs, and the youngsters, Price and Julian Okwara, would have to become true impact players. Maybe next year, would be the more likely scenario, but for now, I'm anticipating more of the same we've seen.