Gunther Cunningham should have fewer trust issues with current defense

Posted Aug 2, 2013

The Detroit Lions defensive coordinator is finally getting some of the pieces in place his defense has needed

One word Gunther Cunningham might be more willing to throw around when talking about his current defense is TRUST.

The Detroit Lions defensive coordinator is finally getting some of the pieces in place his defense has needed, the kind of pieces that can open up an entire playbook.

Too many times last year the trust between player and coach was broken at the end of a game. The Lions blew fourth quarter leads against the Packers (twice), the Texans and the Colts.

The Texans went 97 yards in 15 plays to force the Thanksgiving Day game into overtime, a game the Texans eventual won.

The Lions blew assignments in the secondary against the Colts that allowed them to score twice in less than three minutes at the end of the game to snatch victory from the Lions.

Cunningham has to be able to trust that his defense can make a play when needed.

"We've made a lot of progress," Cunningham said. "To get the personnel collected that you need on any team in the NFL is going to take time when you come in new. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we hit the right buttons this year on some of the guys."

Initial signs look positive. The defense is playing more man coverage than it has in recent training camps because of the skill and physicality they now have on the outside and at safety.

Glover Quin has been everything he was billed to be when the Lions made him a priority in free agency and one of the big reasons Cunningham should feel better about his defense.

"He's my feel-good guy," Cunningham said of Quin. "He's the guy that you count on. He's smart. I do a lot of studying during the offseason with statistics, hopefully finding the answer to picking the right guy to help out in that area, and Glover Quin right now in four years in the league is one of the top safeties in production for that amount of time."

Quin has five interceptions, three forced fumbles and has averaged 79 tackles his first four years in the league. Maybe a more important number for this defense is 64; as in the regular season games he's played the past four years (that's all of them).

"(Trust) is something that's been built," Quin said. "They know they can call a play and expect you to execute it. Expect you to do it to the best of your ability and they trust that you're going to do that.

"They trust that you're going to be there every day. They trust that they can count on you in crunch time and any other time to do your job. That's one thing you want as a player. You want them to trust you."