All week, I’m sure Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell and the rest of his staff have been brainstorming ways to turn around the team’s 1-4 start. Campbell made a significant amount of changes for Week 5, and while it resulted in the team’s worst loss of the season, he believes he found some answers about what the team needs to do out of the bye week.
“I like where our defense is headed now because I think we’ve got some clarity on some things, and I know how we need to proceed moving forward,” Campbell said last Monday. “And I know that our offense is going to be better than what they portrayed yesterday.”
But Campbell also teased that he wasn’t exactly done making changes. Obviously, the team should get some help with some players returning from injury—D’Andre Swift, John Cominsky, Josh Paschal, and Jerry Jacobs are expected to play soon—but it sure sounds like Campbell is opening to continue making changes until the Lions get it right.
“I think we’ve got plenty here to win with,” Campbell said. “On this roster, on the practice squad, we’ve got plenty. And man, there’s a number of combinations we haven’t even tried yet. So, we’re going to look at everything, we’ll take a peek at everybody. There again, we’ll adjust what we need to as coaches.”
So it sounds like the changes will continue to come both next week and beyond. Today’s Question of the Day is:
What is one specific change you’d like to see the Lions make?
My answer: I’m no defensive coordinator, but I think if the Lions can figure out a way to generate pressure without sending the house can fix a lot of other problems ailing this defense. Of course, that is much easier said than done. The holy grail of NFL defense is pressure with just a three or four-man front. If you can do that, you can devote seven or eight players into coverage, which makes life a living hell for NFL quarterbacks.
It sounds—and probably is—overly simplistic to just say run more stunts and twists to hide your intentions and confuse offensive linemen, but it certainly seems like the Lions don’t utilize this strategy very often unless in obvious passing downs.
Detroit seems mainly focused on stopping the run on early downs, but the team hasn’t been very effective at doing that, and even if they do get into third down situations, they are currently allowing a 50 percent conversion rate on those downs—the highest percentage in the league.
What this defense truly needs is highly disruptive plays. Sacks and turnovers. Detroit has seven sacks (31st) and four takeaways (t-30th). Either get opposing teams into third-and-longs or give the ball back to your offense. And the best way to do that is to create more pressure on early downs. Figure it out.