COORDINATOR CUT-UP

Coordinator Cut-Up: Gunther Cunningham disappointed with lack of turnovers

Posted Dec 28, 2012

Gunther Cunningham says his biggest disappointment is that his defense didn't make enough impact plays or cause enough turnovers to make more of a difference.

Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, like all of the Detroit Lions coaches and players, is disappointed with how this season turned out.

No one involved expected to be in a position where the final week of the season would decide between a four- or five-win season.

Cunningham says his biggest disappointment is that his defense didn't make enough impact plays or cause enough turnovers to make more of a difference.

"The turnover problem is something that's kind of haunted me," he said Friday. "I've never really been in that situation before. I've always been a part of defenses that got the ball."

The Lions have a minus-12 turnover ration on the year, which explains a lot about their 4-11 record.

They've also failed to record a single touchdown on defense this year. They're one of only six teams in the league that does not have an interception return for touchdown and they're the only team in the NFL without a touchdown of any kind on returns - interception, fumble, punt or kickoff.

"The way each game went, you know, we couldn't get ahead of the game. It was even- (or) low-scoring and the ball wasn't coming out," Cunningham said of the 11 one-possession games the Lions have played this season.

"You can say we haven't been ahead in a game, but we were behind against Dallas a year ago about 20-0 or more and we generated two touchdowns. We were down against Minnesota and we turned the ball over and won that game out there after we down about 20-0. So, it's a funny situation.

"You know, I watch teams, I watch tape every week of other teams and I can't believe that ball hops up. You think about Kyle Vanden Bosch a few weeks ago down on the 5-yard line, the ball hits him right in the hands and he drops it. Cliff Avril's had about five of those, you know? Our defensive backs have been there, linebackers have dropped them and, you know, it's just amazing."

During the Detroit Lions' run to the playoffs and a 10-win season last year, they recorded seven defensive touchdowns (five interceptions, two fumbles).

"That's one of the things that was key to our start and also to coming back in a couple of those games (last year) was getting defensive scores," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. "We wouldn't have won the Dallas game unless we got started with a couple defensive scores.

"We haven't done it this year. It's hard to have the pace that we had last year, but we also go from that to zero. I guess surprising is a good word for it."