Defensive coordinator Cory Undlin, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs spoke to the media Tuesday ahead of Sunday's matchup at Ford Field against the Washington Football Team.
Here are 10 takeaways from those media sessions:
1. Let's start this week on special teams where the Lions have one of the lowest touchback percentages in the league. This is on purpose, and I like Coombs' response as to why:
"Kind of what we're about here is we're going to make you return the ball and see how much you like it," he said. "There's risk to it, there's no question about that, but we're certainly going to play to win. I'm going to coach to win. Never going to make decision out of a fear of failure or trying not to lose. Just not our mentality or mindset, and I'd say that's something I'm proud of."
2. The Lions had only 10 men on the field last Sunday for Dalvin Cook's 70-yard touchdown run. It's the third time in two weeks that's happened, which Undlin said was embarrassing. Undlin called it poor coaching, simple as that.
Undlin gets the offensive personnel grouping from the box upstairs, and based on the personnel, he makes the call. It's on the the position coaches to get their guys on the field. When there's only 10 guys on the field, there was a communication breakdown somewhere down the line.
3. Washington may only have one win on the year, but Bevell isn't taking their defense lightly, especially their front four. Washington has a lot of first-round draft talent on that line, and can get after the football on the edge and the interior. Washington is No. 1 in the NFL against the pass (185.6 yards per game) and their defense is fifth in the NFL overall (314.3).
4. Coombs is not afraid the last two field goal misses by Matt Prater are a result of the yips or anything else. Coombs said they were two bad hits, sure, and Prater is more mad at himself than anything, but Coombs said Prater has been hitting the ball well in practice and in pregame. Coombs has all the confidence in the veteran kicker to go out there and make kicks. No issues there.
5. Undlin said the Lions are preparing for Alex Smith to play quarterback for Washington, and though they rank near bottom of the league in most offensive categories, they do some stuff on offense Detroit has to watch out for. They have 26 different formations they use with their top two backs on the field together – Antonio Gibson and former Lion J.D. McKissic.
6. Detroit was one of the best teams in the NFL in limiting drops last season. This season, drops have been an issue. They've been credited with 13 so far, which is 6.7 percent of the catchable passes thrown their way. That's one of the highest percentages in the league. Bevell said they're doing drills to help limit them, but ultimately it's a concentration issue and a point of emphasis this week to correct.
7. Where does Bevell think quarterback Matthew Stafford can be better moving forward? Stafford's stats are down considerably from the midway point last year. The thing Bevell wants Stafford to improve the most moving forward is to limit turnovers. He's had three in his last two games.
8. Losing Tony McRae will be a loss for Detroit's special teams. Coombs said McRae was probably their most impactful player on special teams through first half of the season. He'll be hard to replace, but Coombs thinks they have some young guys ready to step up.
9. It's sometimes a delicate balance between trying to impose your will on a defense vs. taking what the defense gives you. The Lions had just one pass of 20-plus yards in the air last week. A lot of that is because the Vikings played a lot of Cover 2 and took the deep shots away, but when does an offense try to impose their will on a defense?
Bevell said that's easier to do in the run game than the pass game. There are opportunities for deep shots built into almost every play, but the defense dictated to Stafford to check it down a lot last week.
10. Undlin said another area on defense they have to be better is in not allowing end-of-half scores. Those can be crucial points, as Minnesota showed last week when they drove the field in seven plays to get a last-second touchdown before the half. Those can be back breakers for a defense at times.