Lions’ defense faces personnel, scheme changes; Aaron Glenn safe

ALLEN PARK — After a disastrous defensive showing in the loss to the Seahawks, coach Dan Campbell said he will make changes in personnel and scheme. 

Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn’s job is safe.

“I’m not afraid to make a hard decision, if I really believed that was the cause of it and I don’t believe it is. I believe Aaron Glenn is the man for the job and he gives us our best hope, our best option to run this defense,’’ Campbell said at his Monday presser.

At the end of last season, Campbell made the tough decision to fire offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn.

The Lions defense gave up 555 yards in the 48-45 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday. It wasn’t just a bad day. The defense was ranked the worst in the NFL after the first three games. It’s an ongoing situation that was magnified on Sunday because the injury-depleted offense rose to the occasion.

Campbell wouldn’t offer specifics on the changes, saying he was still in conversations with Glenn.

“I think you’re looking at the totality of it, our FBI (football intelligence). We’ve got to get some players we feel like we can rely on, we can trust to get out there. Because once they’re trustworthy then their teammates will trust them,’’ Campbell said. “When you really watch it, the thing and I told these guys this, the thing that shows up over and over is a snowball effect.

“We have a guy who doesn’t do the right thing and the guy who knows what to do is trying to overcompensate for it and that’s costing him a step behind his job and then this guy is trying to cover for him and the next play they don’t trust that the teammate is going to be there and we’re in this vicious cycle right now,’’ Campbell added. “We have to pull things way, way back and get our confidence back and gain some trust among teammates. That comes with scheme, that comes with personnel, we’re going to work through it.’’

The problem is not just with the players or the coaches, they all share in the woes. Campbell admits his fingerprints are on the failures too.

The defense is playing without starting safety Tracy Walker who is out for the season after tearing his Achilles tendon. No excuse, though. The offense was playing Sunday without its top two playmakers in D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Campbell did not talk name names, but was asked about rookie Aidan Hutchinson, the second overall pick, who had three sacks in the first half in the win against the Washington Commanders. He hasn’t had one since. 

“I think he’s come a long way, I think every week he’s getting a little bit better. He’s one of the players we need to look long and hard about. Do we need to move him in different spots to give him the opportunity to have more success?’’ Campbell said. “He did a lot of good things in the running game yesterday. I think he’s where our defense is right now — we’ve just got to improve and get a little better. I think we can all help each other. I’m certainly not disappointed in him.’’

One key is to not allow finger pointing which can tear apart a team.

Wide receiver Josh Reynolds was in this situation the first few years he was with the Los Angeles Rams and the offense was putting up points while the defense struggled.

“As the year goes on — we’ve got a long season — as the year goes on the defense starts finding their groove and figuring out how to play together,’’ Reynolds said. “That’s big for the defense you’ve got to trust the guy next to you.we’ve got to give them some time, let them figure it out, especially losing Tracy. They’ll figure it out and we’ll be clicking.’’

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

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

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.)

Five things to watch as Lions face the Seahawks; plus prediction

If the Lions are going to make a big turn-around this season, the defense must step up. Quite frankly, it stinks. The turn-around should come quickly with the Seahawks visiting on Sunday.

The Lions’ defense rates at the bottom of the NFL in giving up points per game (31.0) and red zone efficiency (90.91%). It’s at 28th for total defense and takeaways. Rushing defense is ranked 27th, passing defense 25th.

“Not give up points. That’s how you fix it. But I will say this, in the red zone, man, you’ve got to watch this tape. I mean there are times when we’re in position, and we’re just not finishing plays,’’ defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said this week. “And a lot of times, we’ve got to make sure that we’re coaching the players to do the things that they need to do too, so. And I will continue to say, man, that’s a two-way street between coaches and players, and we’ve got to continue to understand that. But man, you watch those early parts of the game, we’re playing like gangbusters.’’

He said the guys are competing and playing physical until it gets to crunch times. “it just seems like, ‘Ah, how do we do this here, or do we have to do this and when we don’t?’ We just keep doing the same things we have been doing to put ourselves in that position, and that’s what we have to continue to coach, and that’s what we have to continue to do as players,’’ Glenn said.

The offense has had its share of injuries — and will be missing D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown on Sunday — but it still ranks third in the NFL in total offense and second in points per game.

Finger pointing is not allowed in the locker room, but all three units need to play better. Five things to watch as the Lions (1-2) host the Seahawks (1-2):

1. Defense must get more pressure on quarterback Geno Smith who leads the NFL with a 77.5 percent completion rate. It’s not all one rookie defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson but he can do better. He had one half with three sacks and has made plays that don’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet, but he and the linemen can do better. Alim McNeil and Michael Brockers do their part on stopping the run but the line must step up.

2. The defensive backfield does not get a pass. With Tracy Walker (torn Achilles) out for the season their task will be even tougher. Coach DanCampbell would not say who will step in to fill Walker’s position. Cornerback Jeff Okudah has come back nicely from his torn Achilles last season. Cornerback Amani Oruwariye had a nightmare of a game against the Vikings with multiple penalties but the coaches still have faith in him. “I think Amani’s a pro and  he had a rough game. And that’s – that’s just the bottom line. But I also know – he also snapped back there at the end and got a big stop for us one-on-one with (Adam) Thielen on the perimeter,’’ Campbell said. “So, I think Amani’s got thick skin. I know that he’s going to want to be better. And he’ll come out this week ready to work. I’m really not worried about him. I think he’ll snap right back to the Amani we know.”

3. Jared Goff has got off to a solid start and now must find ways to keep the chains moving without his two offensive stars, D’Andre Swift (shoulder/ankle) and  Amon-Ra St. Brown (ankle) along with wide receivers Josh Reynolds (ankle) and D.J. Chark (ankle) who are both questionable. Goff said it really won’t change his role much. “We may or may not have a couple of those guys, the guys who would step in I feel comfortable with,’’ Goff said. “Last year as brutal as it was there were a lot of valuable reps with a lot of those guys who would potentially need to step in. It’s guys I would feel comfortable with.’’

4. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has come up with imaginative game plans and that’s expected to continue.An emphasis was put on third downs this week after they converted just 3 of 16 in the loss to the Vikings. “Clearly, we didn’t convert at the rate we’d like to. However, you look at last week, and we were a yard short on a number of them, so we are very close. I think we called the game the way we wanted to in those situations,’’ Johnson said.

5. Campbell will not change his modus operandi. He is who he is. But he is also introspective and admitted that he should have gone for it on fourth-and-4 late in the Vikings loss. “I’ve got to be better. I’ve got to learn from it no different than the players have to, and I’ve got to do my part, and I plan on doing my part,’’ Campbell said. “So, I’m not going to be fazed. I’m going to have this team up and ready to go, and we’re going to be better.”

Prediction: Seahawks 28, Lions 27. Detroit’s injuries on offense will be too much to overcome.