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Detroit Lions mailbag: Can teams win championships despite bad defenses?

The Detroit Lions clearly have problems on defense. But is their offense good enough to keep a championship run alive?

Chargers Lions at SoFi. Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Detroit Lions fans are understandably concerned about the team’s pass defense after a tough performance against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. It’s not just about Justin Herbert lighting the Lions defense up, though. Lamar Jackson did the same a month ago, and Geno Smith did it before that.

There’s an old adage in football that “defense wins championships,” and right now the Lions defense isn’t exactly exuding confidence. They may not have a ton of pass offense challenges ahead of them on the schedule, but come playoff time, the likes of Jalen Hurts, Dak Prescott, and, to a lesser extent, Brock Purdy. And then if the Lions somehow make it to the Super Bowl, they could be facing any of the elite quarterbacks the AFC has produced.

On this week’s Midweek Mailbag podcast, we received a ton of questions about the Lions defense, what’s going wrong, and what they can do to improve it. But one of the most interesting conversations that emerged from those topics was a simpler question: Do the Lions really need a good defense to win? Is the adage “defense wins championships” still relevant?

Sure, the Lions have struggled against mobile quarterbacks, but doesn’t everyone? The Cleveland Browns—widely considered the best defense in football—just gave up 31 points (that does include on defensive TD) to Jackson’s Ravens.

And look at the past postseasons. The last Super Bowl was a 38-35 shootout between the Chiefs and Eagles. In fact, the winning Super Bowl team has scored at least 30 points in five of the last seven Super Bowls, and the losing teams have scored at least 20 in five of seven.

The Lions defense just proved this last week against one of the league’s best quarterbacks that they can hang—and win—in a shootout. Doesn’t that give them a fighting chance in every remaining game, even if the pass defense doesn’t improve?

That conversation kicks off our podcast around the two-minute mark.

Other topics this week:

  • (9:20) Are there schematic problems in the secondary?
  • (15:30) Can anything be done about the lackluster pressure?
  • (21:00) What is your favorite Brad Holmes draft pick?
  • (29:00) Dismissing Texas A&M rumors
  • (32:15) Bears a more difficult matchup than meets the eye?
  • (36:20) Can the Lions fall victim to the “trap game” mentality?
  • (39:30) Which of the remaining games are the Lions most likely to lose?
  • (41:45) What happened to Brian Branch?
  • (46:30) Is it possible Jameson Williams is still just acclimating to the Lions offense?

Listen to the entire show below:

You can also catch the entire show and some bonus content on YouTube and Twitch.

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