In losses to the Packers and Saints (playoffs) to end last season, the defense allowed 1,176 combined yards and 90 points.
“We didn't hold up our end of the deal,” defensive end
The Lions were leading the Packers with less than three minutes remaining in the game of a 45-41 Week 17 loss. They held a 14-10 halftime lead against the Saints in their Wild Card playoff matchup, but the defense gave up 35 second-half points and the Lions eventually lost 45-28.
Injuries to key players on defense certainly attributed to the drop off in production toward the end of the season, but Vanden Bosch says that’s no excuse for how they played toward the end of last year.
“Injuries play a part, but every team deals with it,” he said. “Part of being a good team late in the season is guys step in. Every team has to deal with injuries and I don’t think anyone feels like it was the reason, or an excuse, that we didn’t play well defensively.”
The Lions are returning 10-of-11 starters on defense and are hoping a healthy
It’s the next nine weeks of the offseason training program that Vanden Bosch thinks will make the biggest difference, though.
“It’s a different type of scheme than a lot of teams run,” he said of the Lions defense. “It’s belief in each other and guys taking care of their own responsibilities and I just think we just need some more time together and time to work on the scheme.
“The things you miss when you don’t have an offseason are you don’t get the fundamental work. You’re just handed the defense and you go out there and run it and you don’t get to work on some little things that make the defense better.
“Now, we have that opportunity and we can go back and look at the things that plagued us, especially late in the season last year and we can get to work and make the improvements that we need to make.”
The offense was a big reason the Lions won 10 games and made the playoffs for the first time in 12 years last season.
The defense will need to play a lot better if the Lions are planning on taking the next step in 2012.