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10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: How can Lions improve run game on both sides of the ball?

Throughout the course of the regular season Tim Twentyman will answer 10 good questions from his Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman."

20man: Any good head coach would take the blame for that kind of performance. Dan Campbell's team didn't show up and wasn't ready to play. Carolina's staff had a much better game plan and executed it much more efficiently. That being said, there wasn't a player in that locker room I talked to after the game who didn't lay the blame solely on himself, especially the defensive players.

It was disappointing to watch them play the way they did with how much was at stake, but that's the NFL. Any given week anyone can get beat if they don't come to play. Detroit didn't come to play last week and that's on Campbell first and foremast. He said this week it won't happen again this season.

20man: First off, they better come to play from the opening kickoff. You'd expect that to be the case at home this week.

I think last week was a good reminder they have to be able to adjust a little better on the fly when they get knocked in the mouth to start the game. I thought Carolina's plan offensively was far superior and it took Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and his coaches too long to counter. Glenn blamed execution, technique and not being assignment sound for what happened last week, and all those were certainly a big factor, but Detroit never adjusted by adding a third linebacker or stacking the box to try and force Carolina's hand into beating them in some other way.

20man: The Lions need to win their last two games. They also need Washington (Cleveland & Dallas) and Seattle (NY Jets & LA Rams) to lose at least one of their remaining two games. They can get away with just one of Washington or Seattle losing one of their remaining two if the NY Giants (Indianapolis & Philadelphia) lose both of their remaining two contests.

20man: Linebacker Alex Anzalone. I wrote about Anzalone last week after he'd played so well heading into Carolina. No one on defense played particularly well last week for Detroit, but Anzalone received the second lowest grade of any Lions defender by Pro Football Focus. He tied his season low in tackles and wasn't in great position at times to make plays, especially in the run game. He's the leader on defense and a captain. I suspect he took that performance personal, and will look to rally the troops this week for a much better showing.

20man: I suspect Campbell, Glenn and company will have a good plan for quarterback Justin Fields and the Bears' No. 1 rushing attack coming to Ford Field Sunday. It's a different run game than what they faced in Carolina because Fields plays such a big role in it from the quarterback position.

The Lions play a lot of 4-2-5 and they feel it's a versatile defense for them because of the way Jeff Okudah, Jerry Jacobs and Will Harris tackle and play the run from the cornerback spots. Okudah and Jacobs had their worst tackling grades of the season last week, which exacerbated their problems playing heavy nickel. I'd expect both those guys to be better this week.

Buffalo did some really good things on defense last week holding Chicago to 80 rushing yards and Fields to just 11. That's a different scheme and different personnel, but this is a copycat league, and I wouldn't be surprised if they take a close look at that tape and see if they can incorporate some elements of that plan that fit their system and personnel a little bit.

20man: Yes. Yes. And yes.

Every Wednesday I tweet out the rankings comparison for the week's matchup and this week especially struck me with where the Lions rank on defense this late into the season. Detroit's 32nd in points allowed (26.7), 32nd in total defense (409.9), 28th against the run (145.9), 30th against the pass (264.1), 31st in third down efficiency (47.5 percent) and 29th in red zone defense (64.8 percent). Detroit's 30 sacks on the year rank in the bottom quarter of the league. They need help across the board.

There are a lot of young players on this defense and the expectation is they take a big leap next season, but the Lions could use a pass-rushing interior defender, another three-down player on the edge, more speed at linebacker, an elite nickel corner and more depth at safety.

20man: It's one of the many decisions GM Brad Holmes will have to make next season. As it stands right now with the contracts on the books for next season and with some of the dead money from players like Trey Flowers and Jamie Collins coming off the books, the Lions are projected to have better than $27 million in cap space.

Vaitai missed all year with a back injury, so first and foremost the medical experts have to get involved about his future health and potential for re-injury. A restructure could certainly be a possibility. The Lions would save about $6.5 million moving on from Vaitai with about $6 million in dead money, per

Don't forget he played pretty good ball for this team a year ago. Vaitai is really loved by the guys in that room and he has been a mentor for Sewell early in his career, but players also understand the business side of the league. It will be a good question for Holmes in his postseason press conference.

20man: We addressed some of the needs defensively above.

Offensively, the Lions' rushing numbers have been down the second half of the season after they got off to a hot start. Detroit's averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry in six of their their last nine contests. That happened just once over Detroit's first six games.

The Lions are missing the chunk plays in the run game they were getting earlier in the year. I think some of the blocking by the tight ends and receivers has fallen off a bit and that's played a factor. Running back D’Andre Swift hasn't been nearly the player he was earlier in the season and that's played a big part too.

I think Holmes has to take a close look at the running back spot this offseason as it pertains to NFL Draft and free agency. Swift is entering the last year of his rookie deal and Jamaal Williams and Justin Jackson are both unrestricted free agents.

20man: This is an accurate statement and it could certainly play a factor this week with DeShon Elliott still dealing with that shoulder injury that kept him out of last week's contest and Kerby Joseph currently hampered by a back injury.

C.J. Moore and Ifeatu Melifonwu are expected to play against the Bears if Elliott and Joseph can't go. Not ideal, but that's life in the NFL in Week 17 of the regular season. Those guys have been in the meetings and on the practice field, and Glenn said he expects them to step in and do the job if called upon. Glenn said there isn't a plan to move nickel cornerback Will Harris back to safety.

Moving forward, they'll get Tracy Walker (Achilles) back next year, and Joseph looks to have a good future, but they certainly need to address their depth at that spot this offseason either in the draft or with another veteran in free agency.

20man: They better.

Fields had 147 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the Lions' Week 10 win, and he also threw for two scores. A missed extra point by Chicago helped the Lions win that contest.

For me, it really comes down to the defensive line playing disciplined football. The defensive tackles can get sucked down in the zone reads so the defensive ends have to cover too much space between the run gap and the edge. The defensive tackles have to be stout to limit that space. The ends also have to be very disciplined and hold an edge and not get sucked down. The corners have to tackle much better this week when Fields does get in space because that will happen at times, he's too good a player. It's all about limiting the explosive plays for the Lions' defense.

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