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. What were Glenn's biggest takeaways from the first eight games of the season both in terms of things his defense did well and things he'd like to see them do better? On the positive side their ability to stop the run (ranked No. 2 in the NFL) and limit big plays (no team has a touchdown outside the red zone vs. Detroit this season) stood out. He mentioned their red-zone defense (ranked 26th) and continuing to generate turnovers (10; ranked 20th) as things he'd like to see improve.
2. Johnson also mentioned the red zone as an area where he'd like to see his offense improve the rest of the way. Detroit's offense ranks 24th in red-zone efficiency (48.2 percent). Johnson said they'll put together a good red-zone plan Thursday night and he expects a good day of practice implementing it on Friday. The Chargers' defense ranks 16th in red-zone efficiency (53.3).
3. We saw Houston have to use running back Dare Ogunbowale to kick a field goal last week after their kicker was injured. Who would be the Lions' backup kicker if Riley Patterson was injured on gameday? Punter Jack Fox, according to Fipp, who said the Lions are lucky in that regard because not all punters can kick field goals.
4. Glenn has a ton of respect for Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert and his ability to stand in the pocket, take a hit and still deliver the football accurately. He said a quarterback with those traits will be a good player in this league for a long time. He said it's really important to get to Herbert and make sure when they do they get him to the ground before he can get rid of the football.
5. We could potentially see a lot more of running backs David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs on the field together moving forward. Johnson said the goal is to get the top 11 players on offense on the field as much as they can, and he considers Gibbs and Montgomery among their top 11. He said he really likes the development Gibbs has continued to show with his route tree in the passing game.
6. What is the biggest thing Fipp would like to see his special teams do a little better the remaining nine games of the season? He would really like to see punt returner Kalif Raymond get going a little more. It's not like Raymond is struggling. His 10.4-yard average per return ranks seventh in the NFL, but Fipp thinks he's close to breaking a big one and he'd like to see some more explosive plays in the return game over the last nine games.
7. Rookie third-round pick Brodric Martin made his NFL debut Week 8 vs. the Raiders playing 11 snaps. Glenn and the Lions knew when they drafted Martin out of Western Kentucky, he was going to be a work in progress. Glenn said he's seen some really good improvements from Martin over the last two months in terms of his pad level and understanding of the NFL game. The plan is to continue to work him into the lineup so he can see these blocks, get the reps and continue to improve. Glenn likes Martin's progress.
View photos from the Detroit Lions practice on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.
8. What three things stand out about Los Angeles' defense on tape? Johnson talked about their ability to stop the run (ranked 6th NFL), how good they are on third down (also ranked sixth) and their ability to generate sacks (31; ranked 2nd).
9. Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Derius Davis was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after recording 104 punt return yards, including an 87-yard return for a touchdown in Los Angeles' last game. Fipp said Davis' speed and the Chargers' scheme will make them cover the entire field in the return game.
10. The newly acquired Donovan Peoples-Jones brings a lot to the wide receiver room, according to Johnson, with his size (6-2, 204), speed (4.48 at Combine), route running, sure hands, big catch radius and position versatility. Peoples-Jones could have an immediate impact in the red zone.