Lions Insider

10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: Why isn’t the defensive line getting enough pressure?

Posted Nov 21, 2013

Tim Twentyman answers fan questions as the 6-4 Lions return home to face the 2-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Every week during the season I plan to answer 10 good questions I receive through my Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman," which is sponsored by Huntington Bank.

How can a D-line with so much talent have little success against vulnerable offensive lines? Bryan McDowell (@McDoogle_Swag)

20man: They have to play better, no doubt, especially at the defensive end position, but you have to think about it from a team perspective on defense.

Opposing offenses are dedicating more resources to blocking the line of scrimmage and coaches are having their quarterbacks get the ball out quick because of the talent upfront for the Lions.

Opponents are having success doing so because the secondary hasn’t always done a good job of covering receivers early in routes. Receivers are breaking open and quarterbacks don’t have to hold the football very long to find them.

On the flip side, the secondary could argue they are giving up so many passing yards because the defensive line isn’t getting enough pressure and they’re having to cover too long.

Everything works hand in hand on defense and it’s not all clicking right when it comes to their pass defense.

I think the Lions really miss defensive end Jason Jones, who was lost for the season Week 3. That’s an injury not a lot of people talk about but it’s had a significant impact on this defense.

Is (Darius) Slay a bust or are the lions not giving him a chance? 2nd rounder that can’t get on the field and other later corners that start. Robert Nowlin (@renashdad)

Darius SlayCB Darius Slay (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

20man: I don’t know if you can call him a bust 10 games into his rookie season. The Lions were certainly hoping he’d have more of an impact, but it doesn’t click for everyone right away.

The biggest question I have after 10 games is whether Slay fits this scheme. He’s big, physical and fast, but doesn’t seem to play well in space yet. He’s a line-of-scrimmage cornerback, who hasn’t played particularly well in zone concepts.

Maybe that’s something he’ll pick up as he gets experience and his technique gets better.

More than anything, though, Slay needs a big play to go his way. Sometimes all it takes to get things jump-started with a young player is one great play. An interception returned for a touchdown or something like that to jolt his confidence.

I don’t think coaches did Slay any favors earlier this year starting him and benching him and starting him and benching him and going to the “bullpen” at times.

He’s talented, but he’s not trending up and that’s disappointing.

Why no Leshoure during the Pittsburgh game? Brandon Kerr (@SFHCommissioner)

20man: I asked offensive coordinator Scott Linehan about that on Tuesday after the team’s walkthrough. He told me that Leshoure was ready to get some carries at the end of that game after Joique Bell left with an Achilles injury, if the game situation had been different.

If the Lions had converted that fake field goal and gone up by 11 and had been in a situation to milk the clock late, Leshoure would have likely got some carries. That’s a role that fits his game and he would have been fresh at the time.

Unfortunately, the Lions didn’t convert the fake and then allowed a 97-yard touchdown drive on defense and had to play catch-up throwing the ball. That’s not Leshoure’s role.

When are the lions going to use Fauria like the weapon he is? He makes plays. Chad Krupp (@lionsnut42)

20man: He’s not catching anyone by surprise anymore, Chad.

Welcome to the NFL, a place where coaches spend 80 hours a week trying to figure out ways to limit the opponents’ weapons.

Fauria’s not catching anyone off guard like he was at the beginning of the year. Defenses are dedicating resources to stop him and now it’s going to take precise route running and scheme to help him make plays.

I will say, however, I’m a little surprised he hasn’t been more of a target in the red zone. I think Linehan has gone away from that a little bit too much. Fauria has soft hands for a big man and should be more of a weapon down near the goal line opposite Calvin Johnson.

If Glover Quin is not ready to go on Sunday then how do the Lions adjust? Sweet Jones (@iLLifeMike)

20man: First off, Quin is likely to play on Sunday. He returned to the practice field on Thursday.

He told us in the locker room Wednesday that he’s been wearing the boot for weeks at home and on off days as he’s battled this ankle injury dating back to the beginning of the season.

However, if for some reason he doesn’t play, the Lions will be very happy if cornerback Bill Bentley can return from the knee injury that’s made him miss the last two games.

If Bentley returns he assumes the nickel cornerback responsibilities and Don Carey can go back to safety and fill in for Quin.

The best scenario is for Quin to play, though, which I think he will.

Do you consider the loss in Pittsburgh a turning point to a rough 2nd half much like 2011? Grant Gibbons (@Grant_Gibbo)

20man: I wouldn’t say that.

The second half of the season started with a huge road win in Chicago. That was a nice start.

Pittsburgh is a tough place to play, especially in those conditions, and the Lions still had a chance to win the game despite how badly they played for 50 minutes of that game.

It really comes down to how the Lions respond this week. They’re heading back home and play a team less talented than them. The Lions haven’t lost back-to-back games yet this season and aren’t looking to start now.

How did @Nate13Burleson look at practice (this week)? LETS GO LIONS (@jrock2582)

20man: This is around the time doctors set as a return date for Burleson.

He still has to get clearance from the doctors, I believe he has X-rays Thursday. He was limited on Wednesday’s injury report, but he has taken first-team reps during drills in the early portion of practice open to the media this week

It’s the first time he’s done that since breaking his arm Sept. 24 in an early-morning car crash.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we see No. 13 on the field Sunday.

Why don't Bush and Schwartz agree on why he was benched in second half? Interesting.  Fumbling sounds more likely than mudder. Doug Buck (@DougGBuck)

20man: The fumble happened in the second quarter and Bush was still playing in the third quarter. I saw Bush slip and fall trying to make a cut no less than three times in that game. He’s an explosive back whose game is predicated on speed and quickness. He simply wasn’t being effective in those conditions and the “benching” had more to do with his 2.6 per rush average than the fumble.

Bell was the hot hand (5.4 per rush) and his style fit those conditions better. I tend to side with Schwartz on this one. I think he went to the “bullpen” and it was a good call with Bell. That's the benefit of having two good backs that complement each other. Too bad Bell got injured and was forced to leave the game or maybe it’s a different outcome.

Just how special is the 4-game stretch Calvin is on? Ryan Patterson (@RW_Patterson)

20man: The thing that amazes me about the last month with Megatron is that he’s done it while battling a sore knee.

With 179 yards at Pittsburgh, Johnson set an NFL record for the most receiving yards in a four-game span with 746. He broke the previous record of 721 set by Houston’s Charlie Hennigan in 1961. Johnson is averaging 186.5 yards per game.

LaAdrian WaddleT LaAdrian Waddle (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

Johnson reminds me so much of Hall of Famer Barry Sanders. Lions fans are lucky that way. They’ve gotten to watch two of the best at their position and maybe the best of all-time.

Nothing Johnson does really surprises me anymore. It was kind of the same way with Sanders.

We’ll probably appreciate every Johnson does more when he’s done playing.

Do you think they stick with Waddle? Isaiah Sanders (@MrZaySanders)

20man: I think they do, Isaiah. At least that’s what I would do.

Waddle had some bad plays last week, but that is a pretty complicated 3-4 zone blitzing scheme for a rookie. I bet his head was spinning a bit. He’s played well enough to earn another start and I suspect he’ll be the starting right tackle on Sunday.

He looks to be the future at the position. He’s going to have moments where he gives up plays, like every rookie does. He’s been a pleasant surprise and will only get better.