Defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell spoke to the media Monday as the Lions began preparations for Sunday’s matchup with the Vikings in Minnesota.
Here are 10 takeaways from those media sessions:
1. Pasqualoni has put a lot of the responsibility for how Detroit’s season has gone, fairly or unfairly, on himself. He said he got into coaching more than 40 years ago to teach the game and to help people be successful, and it bothers him that this defense isn’t playing better. The Lions currently rank 29th in total defense and 25th in scoring defense.
“I take responsibility,” Pasqualoni said. “I’ve got to do a better job.”
2. The Lions placed rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson on IR Monday ending his season. Bevell liked the way Hockenson picked up the offense and fit in well in the room. He’s looking for more consistency moving forward, and for Hockenson to better take advantage of opportunities to make plays. He also said Hockenson is a candidate to have a big jump from year one to year two.
3. Play calling has been a hot topic the last few weeks, and Pasqualoni echoed what head coach Matt Patricia’s has said about the defensive play calling. Pasqualoni said both he and Patricia do it at times, and that there’s constant communication between the two setting up the game plan and then calling it on Sunday.
4. What does Bevell like the most about his new running back Bo Scarbrough? Bevell likes the fact that he’s brought a physical presence to the run game, particularly playing in this division against some the defenses they have to face.
5. Detroit’s defense has been better against the run the last few weeks. They’ve held each of their last three opponents under 100 yards rushing. The defensive benchmarks against the run each week are to hold opponents under 100 yards rushing with an average of less than 3.5 yards per attempt.
6. Bevell pointed to too many self-inflicted mistakes for being the reason they haven’t won more of the close games. He pointed to seven penalties on offense and four dropped balls Thursday in the 24-20 loss to Chicago as a good example of that.
7. What worries Pasqualoni the most about Minnesota’s offense? He called them “masterful” at play action, and thinks they might be the best in the league at it. Good play action puts a lot of stress on a defense.
8. Bevell said he challenged tight end Jesse James a couple weeks ago to be better as a run blocker. He said James has stepped up to the challenge. With Hockenson now on IR, James will likely get more opportunities to make plays in the passing game as well. He’s been rather quiet all season from a production standpoint. It will be interesting to see what he does with more opportunity these last four games.
9. The lack of one specific aspect of the defense being the problem week to week is a bit frustrating for Pasqualoni. Sometimes it’s been a problem with the rush, other times the coverage. He said the issue last Thursday against Chicago was letting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky have a high number of completions on plays where he was able to escape the rush and extend plays.
10. The Lions haven’t closed the window on a possible return for quarterback Matthew Stafford this season. He’s missed the last four games with a back injury. Bevell said Stafford’s been really a good influence for backups Jeff Driskel and David Blough. Stafford has the same routine as if he was a starter. Bevell said Stafford’s done a good job being in those guys’ ears on the sideline and going through the pictures with them.