Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter spoke to the media Wednesday as they do every week during the regular season.
Here are 10 takeaways from those media sessions:
1. Opponents have used the zone read to some success this year against the Lions, especially when the quarterback keeps it. Austin said he’d rather have the quarterback beat him than the running back on those zone runs, but admits they have to get better defending them as a whole. He’ll be on high alert this week, as quarterback Mitchell Trubisky hit the Lions for a couple big runs on zone reads in their previous matchup Week 11, and also ran one in for a touchdown against Cincinnati last week.
2. Cooter said he’s looking forward to getting running back Ameer Abdullah back in his offense this week.
3. Rookie cornerback Teez Tabor played “honorably” last week in Tampa Bay, according to Austin. Tabor played a career high 39 snaps both in the slot and on the outside. Tabor still has a long way to go, but Austin will continue utilizing in him packages as he sees fit.
4. Cooter was rather honest in his assessment of his run game, which now ranks last in the NFL at 76.6 yards per game. “We have some getting better to do,” he said.
5. In order to have an every-down role as a linebacker, Austin said rookie Jalen Reeves-Maybin needs to continue to build strength and become stouter against the run. Reeves-Maybin can run and cover, and has good instincts, but he has to continue to build strength to hold up against the run and the pounding stopping it puts on the body of defenders.
6. Cooter is trusting receiver Kenny Golladay with more of the playbook as he continues to develop. Golladay missed more than a month with a hamstring injury earlier in the year, but since his return, Cooter says he’s opened up more of the playbook to his rookie, including the jet sweep we saw last week. Don't be surprised if there's more to come.
7. The Lions still have a lot of faith in safety Miles Killebrew, even though they’ve turned to Quandre Diggs and not Killebrew to fill the strong safety role that was opened when Tavon Wilson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Austin continues to see gradual growth from Killebrew, and will continue to utilize him in certain packages.
8. Rookie tight end Michael Roberts has been contributing a little more of late, and that’s been good to see from Cooter’s perspective. Cooter said tight ends have the most to learn as rookies outside of the quarterback position. Roberts is a versatile tight end, and Cooter said he won’t pigeon hole him into being just one kind of tight end – receiving or blocking – moving forward.
9. Detroit’s defense continues to tinker with ways to defend the play action pass around the goal line. Those are tough plays for any defense to defend, but it seems Detroit has been particularly susceptible to those plays this week. “We have to get it right,” Austin said.
10. Detroit’s offensive line didn’t allow a single sack last week. It’s no coincidence, according to Cooter, that Stafford and the passing game (381 yards) had so much success. The two are closely linked, and Cooter is hoping they can build off that performance last week and continue to be good keeping Stafford clean the rest of the season.