On Monday, Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell certainly seemed to imply that defensive linemen Josh Paschal and John Cominsky—along with cornerback Jerry Jacobs—could return from injury soon, if not this week.
“Cominsky, it looks pretty promising for him,” Campbell said. “And Paschal had another good week last week. I mean we’ve only had a couple practices, but he’s put two weeks back-to-back that have been pretty good, so we’ll see where he’s at. Jerry continues to get better, so I would say all those guys are trending in the right way.”
The Lions defense certainly needs all the help it can get. Detroit ranks in the bottom five in a ton of statistical categories, including points allowed per game (32nd), DVOA (32nd), sacks (32nd), passes defended (31st), and rushing yards per attempt allowed (30th).
While none of these three players are really stars, they undoubtedly could help an ailing unit.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
Will the return of John Cominsky, Josh Paschal, and Jerry Jacobs make a big enough difference to make a significant difference on defense?
My answer: It obviously depends on your definition of “significant,” but I think it could make a noticeable difference. Cominsky was a nice interior presence for the Lions through two games, and in an ideal world, Paschal will bring more of the same. This is a huge need for a Lions defensive front that is giving simply too many snaps to guys like Michael Brockers and Benito Jones. And let’s be honest. Isaiah Buggs is playing well, but in no way should he be playing 83 percent of snaps.
Any help in the secondary is welcome right now given all of the injuries. So Jacobs returning from injury is undeniably good news. That said, I think people may be setting their expectations a bit too high for the 2021 undrafted free agent. Jacobs is gritty, a hard worker, and will be valuable on special teams, but I’m not sure I would label him as a starting-caliber NFL cornerback.
He could very well win the starting job given where this team is at right now, but I’m not sure that is going to move the needle for me at all when it comes to the Lions secondary.
So to conclude, I think we could see some significant improvement on the defensive line, especially since having Cominsky and Paschal in the lineup allow them to put their other talented pieces—Charles Harris and Aidan Hutchinson—in better positions to succeed. I have far less hope for the secondary, though, and I don’t think anything—or anyone—will change that.