While it will be a week of celebrating the revolution that is this team scoring more than 10 points per game, the defense has been worryingly, disappointingly, and entertainingly bad.
I believe it all stems from the Jamal Adams injury.
Ken Norton Jr. was a lot of things, and some right now still believe he was the wrong guy to fire. However, if there was one athlete who looked more lost in a system that - for years and from multiple players - confused than nearly everyone, it was Jamal Adams in 2021. He was all over pass coverage, often all over the wrong part of the field,
Check out this 51-yard touchdown run right here. That poor sap getting tossed to the ground like an inconvenient middle schooler?
Yeah that’s replacement safety Josh Jones. He’s not been good.
The Lions have an extraordinarily good run game with D’Andre Swift and occasionally Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Neither of those dudes played on Sunday. Seattle gave up 45 to a team that finished the game with practice squad receivers.
Last week, 31-year old Cordarrelle Patterson set lifetime bests etc. en route to a demoralizing win over the Seahawks.
That’s Josh Jones again, doing the same things again. Namely:
- Takes absolutely forever to commit to make a tackle out of a deep set
- Takes a bad angle
- Can’t finish the tackle
Incidentally, just as Patterson was NFC Player of the Week against Seattle in Week 3, TJ Hockenson set a franchise record for receiving yards against this same defense.
But please direct your attention to the 25-yard line where Hockenson should have been tackled, and note the 3-yard line he ultimately ended up.
Jones’ missed tackle was a 72-yard difference.
This season, Jones has a stupid high 19% missed tackle rate, and that’s only through the first three games. I’m sure it goes up once they calculate the Lions whiffs.
For as bad as the big Jamal haters on this site think he was, who wants to guess Adams’ missed tackles last year (his second-best season)?
Adams attacks, makes plays, closes deals. His injury sucks so much for this defense and it’s made all the more gut-wrenching because it was on such a pretty blitz against Russell Wilson, wrapped up, and then boom his quad is gone. It was the first hit against Wilson in the home opener. I was as excited as anyone to see what Adams would do this year with Clint Hurtt at the reigns, and the bulk of tackling responsibility has now shifted to Cody Barton and whoever has played strong safety. It’s not gone well.
On the other side, Ryan Neal has been a disappointment because it would be so easy if the solution were simply out with the Jones, in with the Neal. But Neal, who had the first fantastic coverage and tackle to force the first 3-and-out of the game, was beat badly other places, including another Hockenson touchdown, and seems too inconsistent to make the decision easy. He got more play time this week, and was more inconsistent.
Finally, it’s been obvious that Quandre Diggs is out of sorts this year. He clearly doesn’t trust what’s going on around him, nor should he. Diggs is currently the NFL’s most consistent secondary player, with a record five seasons in a row of three or more interceptions. He has none this year, and hasn’t been close to any except the dropped Russell Wilson deep ball.
Things are funky. Forty-five points funky. I don’t know what the solution is, but it looks like the corners are improving, the line is fine, Darrell Taylor hasn’t been good but Uchenna Nwosu is awesome. The team is in desperate need of one more confident player up the middle, and it’s not coming this season.
Oh boy, another safety or linebacker drafted in the second round next year.