LIONS INSIDER

KEY QUESTIONS: How can Lions improve run defense?

Posted Nov 13, 2017

Tim Twentyman covers all the key questions from Jim Caldwell's Monday press conference.

Head coach Jim Caldwell addressed the media Monday following Sunday’s 38-24 victory over Cleveland.

Here are the key questions brought up in that 11-minute media session:

What do the Lions have to do better to stop the run?

Cleveland gashed Detroit’s defense for 201 yards on the ground.

Looking ahead to next week’s game in Chicago, the Bears have two really good backs in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. The Bears are averaging more than 121 yards per game on the ground, eighth best in the league.

“There’s many (areas we need to get better in run defense),” Caldwell said. “(Cleveland) ran the ball on us a number of different ways. We’ve been pretty good in that area. We have to get back to where we were before.”

The Lions entered Sunday’s game ranked sixth in the NFL in run defense (89.9).

Why were the Lions able to get their run game going a little better Sunday?

The Browns came into the game as the No. 4 defense in the league stopping the run, but Detroit was able to rattle off their second 100-yard performance (104) on the ground this season, averaging 5.5 yards per carry in the process.

“It’s a really good unit (Cleveland's run defense), and I think our guys did a better job executing and getting a man on a man and giving our backs a crease to run in,” Caldwell said.

“I think the backs did a good job getting north and south. Overall, I think it was more execution than anything else.”

How does the performance of Eric Ebron and Kenny Golladay on the perimeter open things up for the offense moving forward?

The Lions utilized Ebron’s athleticism out wide a lot vs. Cleveland, and they were rewarded with a game-winning 29-yard touchdown from Ebron vs. one-on-one coverage with a safety in the fourth quarter.

Golladay, in his first game back after missing five games with a hamstring injury, had a big 50-yard reception down the right sideline in the third quarter that set up a Theo Riddick game-tying touchdown. Again, vs. man coverage.

“Anytime you can get big plays out of your perimeter, it just forces you to do some things differently from a defensive standpoint in term of coverage,” Caldwell said. “You can get a lot more one-on-ones (on the interior) and if you’re going to get more one-on-ones, you should be able to run the ball a little bit better.

“Anytime they can open it up the way they do, when you matchup one-on-one with them, if they can continue to make plays, it helps us.”

What went into the decision to start tackle Corey Robinson at guard?

The Lions replaced the injured T.J. Lang (concussion) with Robinson, who hadn’t played guard since high school. It was also Robinson’s first game back since coming off IR.

“Versatility is key for our guys,” Caldwell said. “So we look at it and make the best assessment we can and what we need for that particular game to be our guy that can fit the bill for what we need and he was able to do so.”

Caldwell said Robinson's performance was "OK."

Robinson gave up three quarterback pressures playing right guard, but didn’t allow a sack or quarterback hit.

How was left tackle Taylor Decker in his season debut?

Decker was making his first start of the season after missing the first eight games with a shoulder injury. The Lions eased Decker back into playing action as he played 36 of the team’s 52 offensive snaps.

“He was OK,” Caldwell said of Decker’s performance.

Caldwell said he likes the progression Decker is on, and he just needs to continue what he’s doing and keep coming along.