Coordinator Cut-Up: There was a moment Sunday when Cunningham saw the 'real' Lions defense

Posted Oct 4, 2012

But there was a moment in last week’s loss against the Vikings when Cunningham said he saw a glimpse of the defense he envisioned he’d have coming into the season.

Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, like head coach Jim Schwartz, measures success on one thing: wins.

So when Cunningham looks back over the first four games of the season and the Lions’ defensive performance, it obviously wasn’t good enough, seeing how the team is in a 1-3 hole.

But there was a moment in last week’s loss against the Vikings when Cunningham said he saw a glimpse of the defense he envisioned he’d have coming into the season.

"It's the first time since about the 12th game of a year ago that I saw us,” he said of a defensive series right before the end of the first half in Sunday’s 20-13 loss to the Vikings.

In that series, the defense sacked Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, hurried him another time and sniffed out a screen pass.

“We got after the quarterback. They had no chance to block us,” Cunningham said.

“They threw a screen and Tully (linebacker Stephen Tulloch) went screaming across the field and killed the back. And we had some shots, they tried to run boots on us and (we) were chasing. There was one boot down by the red zone that Vanden Bosch came off the right side and the last thing you see is Vanden Bosch hitting him two yards inside the boundary. So there were some signs of us coming to life again and hopefully we'll keep that going.”

The Vikings drive ended after five plays and resulted in a punt.

Cunningham could have a big piece of the puzzle back on defense in two weeks in Philadelphia with the return of safety Louis Delmas to the practice field this week. Delmas, who was a Pro Bowl alternate last season, hasn’t played in a game yet this season after undergoing knee surgery Aug. 7.

“The thing that's been bugging me is we haven't had our 11 out there yet,” Cunningham said. “We haven't had them out since the 10th or 11th game last year. And I keep waiting and hoping and hopefully Delmas will practice and Spievey will get back out there and we'll have our 11 that we were counting on.

“And we're still going to have to wait for Corey Williams, but we're getting closer and closer. And in this last game, the series right before the half, I saw us.”

Cunningham also spoke to on a number of other topics:

On if he thought last week was a bounce-back week for his defense:

“It was. Jim (Schwartz) asked me on Monday why I was so mad. I said well one, we lost the game two, they shouldn't have gotten the two field goals. We gave them a 31-yard pass interference call and a 26-yarder.”

On not giving up big plays to the Vikings:

“The interesting thing in the Titans game, what I got upset at - and I'm still upset about it - is we were in the position to make both plays, easy. If we do what we’re told to do instead of going crazy half the time we should make those plays. And yes, we did emphasize it in practice and the disappointment though is when you make the corrections at halftime of the game and then get the same thing the second half, that doesn't sit very well with me.”

On safety Ricardo Silva going from practice squad to active roster to starter in a 24-hour period:

“He did play well. He's a really accountable guy. We knew he knew what to do. And the only thing that worries you about a young guy like that is that they see the fans and hear the crowd and go crazy. And we had talked about it a week prior to him being activated. I kind of had a feeling we might do it. And he had a tendency to get jittery once in awhile where he just gets too excited.

“But I was really proud of him. And I said, 'I'm glad you got a chance to play' after the game. And there was some comment made about he's always had a tough road to get his part in the game and become active and he said ‘that's my story.’ I got pretty emotional about it when he said it and I said, 'Yeah, what a hell of a story it's become.' Kids like that really are special. I believe he's probably the first DB in the building every morning and he works his tail off every day. He's never changed one bit so we're all glad that he had a chance and that he played as well as he did.

On having no interceptions through four games:

“If you were around me early in my career, I've always been a man-to-man coach. In Tennessee we had like 40 snaps of man-to-man. So we're playing man-to-man and locking down receivers more. The idea is to knock the ball down. If you get interceptions, then you're peaking. And if you peak in man-to-man, you're going to give up touchdowns.

"We've given up six touchdowns in four games. One rushing and five passing. All five passing ones were mistakes and I don't like that. But you're right. The other thing that's happening is because the game's real tight, we're not ahead or far behind so everybody's playing us. And they're keeping their attack balanced. It's 50-50, run then pass, a lot of play action.

"And we're not getting the pressure. We up-tempoed the blitzes last week. I think it's just a matter of time. And I know we'll score points and we'll have those games where we get the ball. And I liken it to sacking the quarterback. People always say, 'Well Joe Blow didn't have any sacks,' and then they end up with 12 at the end of year. It's just a matter of having that ball bounce the right way. We had a chance for 2-3 this last game and we dropped them."