The Detroit Lions defense is in a pretty big rut. Through the first six weeks of the season, they ranked second in defensive DVOA and were allowing just 18.8 points per game (ninth). Since then, the Lions rank 31st in defensive DVOA and are allowing 28.7 points per game (31st).
Sunday against the Chicago Bears wasn’t the worst performance from the Lions' defense, but two plays during the game could haunt star defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. On the first, he jumped offsides on a fourth-and-13 play the Bears had no intention of running. The mistake allowed Chicago to run a free play that turned into a 38-yard touchdown pass. On the next defensive possession, Hutchinson called an in-play stunt—something he is given the freedom to do—but that caused Detroit to quickly lose contain on Bears quarterback Justin Fields and he easily scrambled for a touchdown on the third-and-goal play from the 11-yard line.
Hutchinson immediately took responsibility for both mistakes in his media session after the game, and a few days later he is ready to move on and improve.
“We’re going to get back, we’re hellbent on it,” Hutchinson said on Wednesday. “We’re going to get back to winning football, that’s been the main goal since Monday, Sunday night. I think everybody in this locker room, everybody in this building is just ready to get back to what we were doing.”
Key to Hutchinson’s mindset is to not get caught on the bad plays. He knows he had a couple of mental mistakes, but that, overall, he still had a solid game—he did tally six pressures, a pass defended, and a sack. That’s what needs to be the focus going forward.
“The things that went wrong weren’t necessarily—it wasn’t technique—it was just some temporary lapses in judgment, I guess,” Hutchinson said. “It’s nothing that I’m changing myself as a football player. It’s just one of those things where it was stupid, it happened and you move on.”
The Lions coaching staff has preached that same confidence. Knowing that many of the mistakes made against Chicago were from the most reliable players on this team, coach Dan Campbell believes those players will use that as motivation to respond on Saturday against the Denver Broncos.
“Some of our best players on the team did not play well and that’s encouraging going into this one because those are prideful guys, and those are our dudes,” Campbell said. “And believe me, those guys are going to come back—no different than us as coaches. We’re going to be at our best. And I just know what kind of locker room we’ve got, what kind of players and we will respond. We will respond.”