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10 takeaways from Austin & Cooter

Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter spoke to the media Thursday as they do every week.

Here are 10 takeaways from those media sessions:

1. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said Wednesday the Lions' performance on offense has been "OK." Cooter described it Thursday as "more inconsistent than we would like." Detroit ranks 26th in total offense and 19th in scoring.

2. Detroit's defense has been much better the last five weeks, holding opponents to 20 points or less in their last five contests. What's caused the improved play? Solidifying their run fits and run gaps, which has held opponents down in the run game and forced them to be one dimensional.

3. Veteran receiver Anquan Boldin has the complete trust and faith of Cooter, who said he's never seen another player catch more footballs in tight windows than Boldin. Boldin leads the Lions with six touchdown receptions.

4. The Lions have been better against the tight end position of late, something Austin attributes to some of his sub packages with more safeties on the field. Austin said those safeties, including rookie Miles Killebrew, are more suited to cover tight ends.

5. Cooter and the Lions are still evaluating the left guard spot. Rookie Graham Glasgow and Laken Tomlinson, the team's first-round pick last year, have both received reps there in recent weeks. After losing his starting spot a few weeks ago, Tomlinson has worked his way back into the lineup the last couple weeks. He played 44 percent of the snaps vs. Minnesota on Thanksgiving. That spot seems to be open for competition.

6. The Lions are playing as many as six and seven players in the secondary with substitutions and sub packages. A big part of that being successful for them, according to Austin, is everyone buying in and embracing their roles.

7. The Lions' offense isn't blind to the fact that New Orleans has the best offense in football that's scored the second-most points this season. Cooter and Co. are focused on the Saints' defense, but he said it's important to know what an opponent is doing, not just defensively.

8. Everything the Saints offense does well starts with quarterback Drew Brees. Austin knows Brees is going to complete passes, but the key for him is to keep the ball in front of them and then tackle. No footballs should go over defenders' heads, and no players splitting defenders for big plays. Austin says that's the key for Detroit's defense Sunday.

9. Veteran tight end Brandon Pettigrew has been productive over his career as a receiving and blocking tight end. When and if he returns off PUP this season, Cooter would like to get that production going again.

10. Austin is again on a list of qualified candidates for vacant head coaching positions this offseason. Austin's interviewed for head-coaching positions each of the last two offseasons, but hasn't been offered any of the positions. Austin said Thursday that he's not worried about that right now, and is focusing on the job at hand in Detroit.

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