NOTEBOOK: Lions need to get back to forcing turnovers

Posted Oct 25, 2013

Creating turnovers has been a staple in Detroit's four wins this season

Nick FairleyThe Lions have 12 takeaways in their four wins, but just one in three losses. (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

There are a number of statics the Lions can point to as reasons they've lost three games this year. Their rushing yards have been down and big plays allowed on defense have been up, but the one statistic that's been most crucial in their losses is the lack of turnovers.

The Lions have forced one turnover in their three losses. They've had 12 in their four wins.

"That's the key to the game and we didn't get any (last week vs. Cincinnati)," defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said. "If you're going to give up a 80-yard touchdown pass, you better come back and take the ball away.

"And for whatever reason, we've lost that edge and we need to retain it quickly, both in interceptions and fumbles."

The Lions have 10 interceptions on the year after recording just 11 all of last year. However, they have just one in their three losses to Arizona, Green Bay and Cincinnati. The defense hasn't recovered a single fumble in any of those games.

"That's it," Cunningham said. "And that's what happened to us last year. We started out getting them right away (this year) and we need to get back to that mentality."

Also, in all three losses, the defense failed to get consistent pressure on the quarterback. In most cases, pressure is the key to turnovers, whether it's forcing a bad throw by a quarterback or getting a strip-sack and fumble recovery.

"That's something (the defensive line) can help us with," said head coach Jim Schwartz. "Whether they're getting sacks or not, we saw a lot of examples early in the season where they didn't necessarily get the sack, but they were able to get enough pressure or affect the passing game enough that they forced some mistakes.

"If we're doing that, you don't have to look at sacks and things like that to know that they're being effective."


Calvin Johnson, who did not practice Wednesday but was back on the field Thursday and Friday, was asked if his ailing right knee felt the same as it did last week at this point.

"Yes, I would say that," he said. "I can say that, definitely. I didn't really practice a lot the week before that, but last week I practiced some on Thursday. I got a lot of practice in (Thursday), too, so it's definitely getting better. It's just a never ending process of keeping that thing right."

Johnson played 71 snaps against the Bengals last week and had nine catches for 155 yards and two scores on 15 targets.

If Megatron is at the same point with his knee this week, as he was last week, that should be reassuring to Lions fans.

"Last week we could really tell even in pregame warm-ups that he was closer to his real self," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said.

"I think he's working hard to get back to where he was at the start of the year. I think he's getting close."


Last week the Cowboys' plan to stop Eagles running back LeSean McCoy was simple: contain him, corral him and never let him get his momentum going.

The Cowboys held McCoy to 55 yards rushing on 18 carries and 26 yards receiving on six catches.

McCoy and Reggie Bush have similar styles as running backs. Bush leads the Lions in rushing and is second in receiving yards. He is the only player in the NFC with at least 400 rushing yards (426) and 300 receiving yards (305).

"They can get outside really quick," Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin told Todd Archer of "They can hit the hole really quick. They both have good hands. They both play on third downs. Very similar."

In all three Lions losses this year, Bush has been held under 94 total yards.

"They both fall into the same category of shifty and elusive running backs coming out of the backfield," linebacker Bruce Carter said. "They move just as quick as wide receivers, so you really have to be tuned into your keys and really stay on top of your technique because if you don't you can be exposed.”