The Detroit Lions have a huge defensive problem, and they’re going to try and do something about it this week. On Monday, coach Dan Campbell said they are going to make some roster changes on that side of the ball in search of players who they can trust and will stick to their assignments.
“We’ve got to get some players that we feel like we can just, we can rely on, we can trust to get out there because once they’re trustworthy then their teammates will trust them,” Campbell said.
At this point, I’m not sure the Lions can add anyone who is going to make a tangible difference, and it doesn’t seem like that’s what Campbell is talking about anyways. Instead, it seems like the Lions plan on benching some players, giving an opportunity to someone who has sat on the bench or only played a limited role thus far.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
What lineup change should the Lions make on defense?
My answer: The Lions have issues just about everywhere in the lineup, so there is really no shortage of players that could—or should—be replaced. The problem, obviously, is finding capable players on the roster who can replace them.
On the defensive line, there isn’t much going right at all. The edge defenders aren’t winning their one-on-ones, and while Detroit got some solid interior defensive line play earlier in the season—especially in run defense—that has not been as consistent the last couple games. Perhaps it’s time to see what undrafted rookie Demetrius Taylor has in him.
I’d like to see the Lions make some changes on the edge, as reserves Julian Okwara and Austin Bryant haven’t done much at all in terms of pass rush, but Detroit doesn’t have anyone else they can trust. What are they going to do, bring in Jarrad Davis from the practice squad? Promote sixth-round pick James Houston? Play Anthony Pittman there? None of those options inspire much confidence.
At the linebacker level, Malcolm Rodriguez is still playing at an extremely high level. Alex Anzalone has had an up-and-down season thus far. In an ideal world, it would be nice to see some of his snaps go to a younger player like Derrick Barnes, but the second-year linebacker has to earn it. Anzalone also isn’t really the type of player who tries to do too much. He’s generally assignment sound, so I’m not sure Campbell is talking about him when suggesting personnel changes.
At cornerback, it may be time to start having some tough conversations with Amani Oruwariye. He’s struggled tremendously in the last two games. He’s had the support of the coaching staff and he’s coming off a back injury, but he seems to have lost a lot of confidence, and he did appear to have a hand in a miscommunication on a touchdown against the Seahawks.
The question there is simply who would replace him? Jerry Jacobs is an option, but he likely won’t be ready until after the bye. Will Harris is almost certainly the answer if a change is going to be made this week, and that’s not going to inspire a ton of confidence among skeptics.
Detroit is going through some experiments at safety, as they try to find a replacement for captain Tracy Walker. Last week, Kerby Joseph made his debut, and despite giving up a touchdown on the opening drive, he competed and played well enough that I don’t think Detroit will be looking to replace him right away.
So... overall, it’s hard to really see a lot of ways the Lions can improve their personnel with internal options right now.
Am I missing something? Discuss in the comments.