Notebook: Cunningham looking for a quick solution, Willie's ugly finger and the last defensive play

Posted Dec 7, 2012

Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham is at a loss for words when it comes to the Lions’ late-game collapses on defense.

"I'm going out of my mind. I'll be honest with you,” he told reporters Friday. “There are some things that are happening that I've never seen in my life."

Cunningham said the Lions have had 13 three-and-out series over the last two games and 37 for the season, which ranks in the top five in the league.

How can they be so good at times during the game and so bad at the end of games?

“In this last game, we had seven (three-and-out series),” he said. “In the game before that, we had six. That's impossible. Thirteen, that's really one game with all three-and-out series, where they don't move the ball at all.

“That said, I cannot figure out what happens to us. Well you can't go out there six, seven times in a game and go three-and-out and then give up touchdown drives. It just doesn't work that way. There's something in the water on the sideline, I think, but we have to find the answer and straighten that out.

The defense allowed Colts quarterback Andrew Luck to orchestrate 75- and 85-yard touchdown scoring drives on their last two possessions of the game to secure a come-from-behind victory.

Cunningham didn’t want to use injuries as an excuse, but said it has also played a factor.

“We've had a lot of different guys play back there,” he said. “I've had to do this in one other year and that was in 2008 in Kansas City when I started seven rookies on defense and we would play them toe-to-toe every game. Fourth quarter was tough on us. And we can't allow that to happen here. We have to figure out a way to get that solved and solve it fast obviously.”

2012 Opponent 3 & Out Drives

1 DEN 156 47 30.1
2 CHI 146 41 28.1
3 HOU 155 43 27.7
4 DAL 129 34 26.4
5 DET 142 37 26.1

Defensive end Willie Young has one of those injuries that make your knees kind of weak when you look at it. It’s nothing that’s kept him out of a game, just one of those gnarly looking things that gives people the willies (no pun intended).

Making a tackle in the Green Bay game Nov. 18, Young suffered a cut to his finger that went right to the bone. He said Friday he could flip the skin up and see the bone inside when it first happened.

The finger is currently swollen and disfigured and looks simply awful.

“Yeah, it hurts. Look at it,” Young said to a reporter Friday.

“Willie’s got the ugliest finger I’ve ever seen in my life,” Cunningham said. “I told him that Ronnie Lott cut his (finger) off, so cut it off."

Young hasn't gotten to that point, yet. Though he told reporters today he has thought about it.

He hasn’t missed a practice or a game with the injury. Just one of those things a football player deals with.

The Lions allowed a 14-yard touchdown pass from Luck to Donnie Avery with no time left on the clock last week that lost them the game.

On the play, Luck was able to escape the pocket and find Avery on a crossing route at about the 5-yard line and he was able to walk in.

Cunningham said there were many breakdowns on the play.

"We all rushed the passer and one guy fell down, and the nickel did a poor job, he never saw it,” he said. “It was good coverage and we misplayed it and what a time to misplay something.

“That happened to me one other time in San Diego and it's just so disheartening. You could have done this, you could have done that.

"He escaped to the right, which he does frequently and we had him bottled up all day and I'm not going to put that on any player. It happened and we have to get better. That's all."