Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp spoke to the media Thursday as they do every week. Here are my 10 biggest takeaways from those media sessions:
1. Johnson has to feel like a kid in a candy store at the moment with all his skill-position weapons back and healthy for the stretch run. He said he's starting to see a difference in how defenses play his offense now with the speed wide receivers DJ Chark and Jameson Williams provide on the outside. He said it's really opening things up underneath for guys.
2. What identity have the Lions build defensively over the last month and a half? Glenn described their identity as tough, violent and hunting the football. The latter has been key to Detroit's resurgence on defense. The Lions have forced 10 takeaways over their current 5-1 stretch and have a plus-seven turnover differential in that span.
Glenn said the takeaways have really been a big emphasis since the bye. He also said they target certain opposing players they feel there's an opportunity to get a takeaway from, and his defenders have been really good attacking the ball.
3. People might think it was a risky call by head coach Dan Campbell to run a fake punt on a 4th and 8 from the Lions' 26-yard line last week. Asked about the play on Thursday, Fipp said from his and Campbell's perspective, it wasn't that risky given the look they got from the Vikings and the matchup between their players and those on the field for the Vikings. The Lions are 6-for-7 converting fake punts over the last two seasons. That would give me a lot of confidence too.
4. The Lions have averaged less than 4.0 rushing yards per carry in four of their last six games. They are still moving the football and scoring points, but Johnson acknowledged Thursday they have to be more consistent running the football down the stretch. They face the Jets and their fourth-ranked passing defense on Sunday. Having some early success in the run game could soften things up both from a pass rush and coverage perspective.
5. Rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson leads the Jets in receptions (63) and receiving yards (868). Glenn said Wilson is the real deal and a tough cover. He described Wilson as one of the best in the NFL at the receiver position in breaking tackles, so that's a point of emphasis this week.
6. On the 35-yard Kalif Raymond punt return that set up Chark's 48-yard touchdown last week against the Vikings, the Lions had the starting defense on the field with Raymond in for slot cornerback Mike Hughes. It was a 4th & 1 play, and the Lions were defending a fake first and foremost, but then got some terrific blocking from cornerbacks Jeff Okudah and Jerry Jacobs as the gunners along with linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez, safety Kerby Joseph and defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson, per Fipp. Talk about versatility.
7. The Jets play a four-down wide-nine style upfront on defense. Johnson said that style isn't common around the league and can shock a team if they're not used to it. Getting good looks at it this week from Detroit's look team has been really important, Johnson said.
8. Veteran defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs has been an important player for the Lions' defense, but he doesn't always stand out on the stat sheet. So Glenn was really happy to see Buggs get a game ball last week after he forced a key fumble, recorded a sack and had three quarterback hits. Glenn said Buggs has found a home here in Detroit and he's excited about the kind of player he'll become in the center of this defense.
9. Fipp couldn't say enough good things about the coaching style and attention to detain Campbell has.
"He's super intelligent," Fipp said of Campbell. "I know he comes across as different, but those SAT scores and stuff, I guarantee he'd be off the charts. He just has a very good way about him. It's enjoyable to work for him because you don't feel like anything is ever pressed down your throat or you're being backed up against a wall, 'You got to do it this way.'"
10. One trend we've seen over the last couple years is wide receivers and cornerbacks coming into the league and having more of an immediate impact. Johnson referenced Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain as one of those players the Lions faced last year. Johnson puts Jets rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner in the same category. Johnson said he's been especially impressed with Johnson's willingness to be a tackler and play physical at the line of the scrimmage. He said his receivers will have to be on point this week when matched up against Gardner, who is the favorite for Rookie of the Year.