Detroit Lions defensive issues lead to 48-45 loss to Seahawks

Lions coach Dan Campbell

DETROIT — This Lions’ loss was on the defense. The offense, which is decimated by injuries, did its part on Sunday, but the Lions lost to the Seattle Seahawks, 48-45, at Ford Field. 

“I’m not shocked, I’ve been a part of so many games where you think it’s going to go one way and it goes the complete opposite,’’ coach Dan Campbell said. “I’m not shocked, but I thought it would be more defensive, a more conservative type game and it certainly wasn’t that.’’

How bad was Detroit’s defense?

— Seattle’s 48 points were more than they scored in their first three games combined. 

— The Seahawks never punted and they were 9 of 12 on third-down conversions.

— Quarterback Geno Smith completed 23-of-30 passes for 320 yards, a pair of touchdowns and he ran seven times for 49 yards and a touchdown. In the first three games he ran for a total of 15 yards.

— Running back Rashaad Penny carried 17 times for 151 yards and two touchdowns.

— Wide receiver DK Metcalf caught seven passes for 149 yards.

Campbell will do a deep dive into the defensive woes. When asked if there could be staff changes, he said: “I’m going to look at everything.”

This was not the first time the defense looked unprepared. The 1-3 Lions have averaged 31.7 points per game (before Sunday) which was second in the NFL, but the defense had given up 31 points per game which is the worst in the League.

The math is pretty simple.

“We lack confidence (defensively), that’s very clear to see, that’s one element to it,’’ Campbell said. “We lack a lot of confidence. …  We’re lacking some confidence, and there again, we’re still making errors which falls into our boat as coaches. That’s on us.’’

Naturally, questions arise about defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. Campbell said he will sit down with Glenn and look at everything from scheme to personnel.

“A.G. is a damn good coach,’’ Campbell said. “This is what I told the team, the worst thing we can do is start pointing fingers at each other — you did this, you didn’t do this. We can’t do that, we can’t let anybody pull us apart.’’

The offense gets it. Quarterback Jared Goff, who passed for 378 yards, said he’s been in the inverse situation. “I know what happens. If you don’t support them, it goes downhill quickly,’’ Goff said.

Tight end T.J. Hockenson, who had a career day with eight receptions for 179 yards and two touchdowns, echoed Goff’s thoughts.

“I don’t want anybody to lose hope in that locker room,’’ Hockenson said.

Since day one, Campbell has always taken blame and it was no different on Sunday.

“As dismal as it is right now, we’re not as far away as we feel. Until we do something about it, it doesn’t matter,’’ Campbell said. “We’ve got to coach better and they need to take it on their shoulders.’’

He said they’re all in the same boat together.

“I know this, we can’t go in panic mode, it’s the worst thing you can do,’’ Campbell said.

While most problems were with the defense, he will also look at ways to improve the offense which was without its biggest producers. D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown were sidelined with injuries. And still they produced 520 yards of offense in a game where they never held a lead. Along with Hockenson and Goff, running back Jamaal Williams had 19 carries for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Josh Reynolds caught seven balls for 81 yards and a touchdown.

That next man up motto seems to be working for the offense under coordinator Ben Johnson. 

“There’s really no flinch with who is in there,’’ Goff said.

The flinch comes when the defense takes the field. Changes have to be made, whether in staffing or scheme, to get the season back on track.

(Next up: Lions at New England Patriots, 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct 9.)

Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on Amazon.com. She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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