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. When the 2023 season is all said and done, tight end Sam LaPorta might end up with one of the greatest rookie seasons a player has ever had at the position. Johnson said he's really not too surprised at the success LaPorta has had as a receiver. They saw his ability as a route runner on tape at Iowa. Johnson said where he feels LaPorta is more advanced than he thought is in the run game. Johnson said he's sometimes left scratching his head trying to figure out what LaPorta can't do well.
2. Aidan Hutchinson has been seeing an increase in the double teams he faces week to week. Glenn said he and Hutchinson looked at film of T.J. Watt this week to see how Watt counters double teams and their big takeaway from the film was how Watt uses his hands. Let's see if it helps this week against the Bears.
3. Jalen Reeves-Maybin was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after his four-tackle performance in the win over the Saints last week. Fipp said Reeves-Maybin is a player who leads mostly by example but as a captain this year he has been more vocal, which has been great for the young players. One thing Fipp said he marvels at when it comes to Reeves-Maybin is how every week the opponent puts their best player on teams on Reeves-Maybin and sometimes two players, and he still makes plays every week.
4. The Chicago Bears are No. 1 in the NFL defensively against the run, and that's one area Johnson said will be a challenge this week offensively. In a game that could be impacted by weather, the run games on both sides of the ball are going to be really important. Detroit rushed for 115 yards in the first matchup vs. Chicago Week 11 but almost half of those yards came on the final two possessions. The Bears are allowing just 79.0 yards per game on the ground.
5. Don't be surprised if we see second-year defensive lineman Josh Paschal playing more inside moving forward with Alim McNeill on injured reserve. Glenn alluded to that possibility Thursday.
6. Fipp said it didn't take long in training camp to identify undrafted rookie Trevor Nowaske as a player they thought could help impact the game on special teams. It's part of the reason why the Lions signed Nowaske to the 53-man roster from the practice squad when another team was looking to sign him. Nowaske made his debut in New Orleans and did a nice job, per Fipp. He's excited about Nowaske's future.
7. The Saints chose to double team wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown a number of times last week which allowed LaPorta to see a lot of one-on-one coverage and resulted in nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown for LaPorta. Kalif Raymond made some big plays in one-on-one coverage with St. Brown doubled vs. the Chargers a few weeks back. Johnson said teams will have to think twice about doubling St. Brown moving forward if they watch the tape of those two contests in particular.
8. Where is rookie defensive lineman Brodric Martin making his biggest gains according to Glenn? With his hands. Glenn said Martin is understanding how important hand usage is in this league and he's come a long way, working before, during and after practice on it. Glenn said one area where Martin needs to continue to get better is in his lateral quickness, which he's working hard on.
9. It's a good problem to have but Jack Fox hadn't punted a whole lot in the weeks leading up to the Saints game and sometimes it's hard to get into a rhythm as a punter with limited oppoprtunities for consecutive weeks. Fox was called upon five times in New Orleans and did a great job, averaging 50.8 yards per punt with a 44.8 net average. It was a great game for him as he continues to be a weapon on special teams.
10. How much does weather play a factor in the game plan? It impacts the decision to receive or kick the ball and play with the wind. Johnson said the potential for wind and rain impact the game plan all week. Some of the little details fans might not think of factor in too. Johnson talked about the position of the sun as it relates to taking deep shots and affecting receivers. It's wild the things that are factored into an NFL game plan.