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. The bye week allowed Glenn and the Lions' defense a chance to reflect, recharge and take a long look at the film of the first five games to try and come up with some answers to Detroit's defensive woes to begin the year. It was also an opportunity for Glenn to look in the mirror a bit, and he said he's better for that as well.
The biggest thing Glenn came out of the bye wanting to improve is the pass rush. Detroit's seven sacks are last in the NFL. It's not just sacks, but improved pressure too. He thinks getting John Cominsky and Josh Paschal back in the mix will help in that department.
2. Johnson said there were three points of emphasis coming out of the bye week he talked about with his offensive players on Monday:
- Better communication
- Fundamentals and technique
- Critical situations (short yardage, third down, four minute, late-game situations)
Being better in critical situations, especially late in games, is the big one for me.
3. The Lions are 4-of-6 kicking field goals on the year. Their 66.7 percentage is tied with San Francisco for last in the NFL. It's the area Fipp said he has to improve the most on special teams coming out of the bye. It's been a pretty strong special teams unit all year outside of some inconsistencies in the field goal kicking.
4. Glenn is predicting a good week for rookie pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson, who outside one great half Week 2 against Washington has had a rather quiet start to his first season. Glenn said he and Hutchinson have talked this week about calming down and playing more under control. They're also giving him freedom to play in some other spots along the line, and think that can free him up a bit.
"I know Aidan is a guy everyone talks about," Glenn said. "I'm trying to get him to calm himself down so he won't get out of character and just continue to work ... just close yourself off from everything and go play. I think he's going to do a good job this week."
5. Fipp said wind was definitely a factor in deciding not to attempt the 49-yard field goal in the first half against New England.
"We do feel like making a 50-yard kick in those conditions, on that day, on that field, going that direction, with those uprights, was going to be a little bit more difficult," he said. "I think if you look at (Patriots head coach Bill) Belichick's decision making going that direction on that field, and you go back in his history, you'll see that it's different on that end for him, too."
6. There's been a big focus on being better on 3rd & 1 and 4th & 1 for Johnson and the Lions' offense this week. He's been a little disappointed they've failed on a number of those plays early this season despite being so strong overall upfront and in the run game.
7. Cornerback Amani Oruwariye lost his starting spot before the bye week. Glenn hasn't lost faith that Oruwariye can still be a top corner in the league, but said his benching was necessary at that time for the defense to take a step forward. Glenn said it's his job to get Oruwariye through the rut he's currently in. Glenn said Oruwariye wasn't pulling his weight, and the benching sent a message to every player in the locker room that no one gets a free pass, players have to earn their keep moving forward, and competition will rule. Glenn likes the way Oruwariye has responded so far.
8. Johnson said Cowboys second-year linebacker Micah Parsons just might be the best defensive player in the NFL right now.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Wednesday, October 19, 2022.
9. Fipp was asked about the 10 kickers the Lions have rostered in the last two seasons since not re-signing veteran Matt Prater.
"Ultimately, we lost a good player there, so then the goal was to find the next guy, and I think that we knew that in doing that, it was going to take some time," he said. "But I think overall, from our decision-making process and all that, I don't regret or second guess any of the moves we've made up to this point. Hopefully, it'll settle down here. Hopefully, we end up having two (kickers) this year primarily, and it settles down, and we end up getting some productivity out of those guys."
In retrospect, the Lions probably wish they could have come to terms with Prater, who is perfect kicking field goals and extra points for Arizona this season after going 30-of-37 kicking field goals last season for the Cardinals.
10. Detroit's given up too many explosive plays both in the run and pass games on defense through five weeks. The eight rushing plays of 20-plus yards given up are the most in the league. The 25 total plays of 20-plus yards allowed ranks 23rd. Glenn said missed tackles and missed assignments have been the biggest culprit and he has made both a point of emphasis this week. Interestingly, Detroit's 24 missed tackles credited to them by Pro Football Reference are the fifth fewest in the league. It's been more the timing of them than the quantity.