Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn 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. Glenn seemed pretty disappointed across the board by the performance of his defense in last week's 38-10 loss in Denver. Tackling, or what he perceived as a lack thereof, was his biggest concern. He pointed to a number of situations where poor tackling led to big plays for Denver, especially in the red zone. That will be a big emphasis this week against quarterback Kyler Murray and the Cardinals' talented offense.
2. The Lions are last in the NFL offensively converting on third down, and it was something Lynn mentioned a number of different times Thursday. He said everyone on offense has to execute better on third down including the pass catchers, quarterback and play callers.
3. People immediately think of the dynamic offense and stout defense when talking about the 10-3 Cardinals, but Fipp said they're really good in all phases of special teams as well, from kicker Matt Prater to punter Andy Lee to their coverage and return units. Thy Cardinals are a pretty complete football team.
4. The Lions are decimated in the secondary by both injury and players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Glenn is currently down something like nine players in the secondary, but don't expect him to make any excuses for it.
"Even with all the issues with the COVID related stuff, it's still next man up. We make no excuses," Glenn said. "Everybody gets coached. Everybody is in the meeting room. We just have to make sure we play at a high level ... everybody cashes a check, so I expect you to know what to do when you go on the field."
5. One of the reasons why rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has really come on of late, according to Lynn, is his timing with quarterback Jared Goff has gotten much better. Lynn said earlier in the year St. Brown was trying to do too much and that threw off the timing on some routes. He has simplified his approach, and that has led to better timing.
6. Speaking of Prater, the Lions didn't re-sign the veteran this offseason, letting him leave and sign with the Cardinals. Fipp said that wasn't because he thought Prater was slipping after a down 2020 season. Fipp said Thursday his evaluation of Prater when joining the staff was that he thought highly of Prater.
7. Glenn talked about being better tacklers on defense this week, and he emphasized that when talking about Arizona running back James Conner, who has 14 rushing touchdowns on the year. A lot of those came inside the opponent 5-yard line, so Glenn said they have to be particularly stout against Conner in short yardage and goal-line situations Sunday.
8. When we talk about 1-on-1 matchups on offense we usually think about the passing game. But Lynn explained Thursday how they try to scheme 1-on-1 matchups between offensive and defensive linemen, and which linebackers they want to isolate 1-on-1 vs. the running back. It was pretty interesting to listen to.
9. The injuries and COVID-19 cases aren't just affecting the offense and defense in Detroit. The Lions had five new players on kickoff last week, and Fipp said it was one of the reasons why they pushed the ball more into the end zone on kickoffs last week to avoid returns. It just goes to show how injuries play a factor in all three phases of the game.
10. Consider Glenn a fan of dynamic Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray. Glenn compared Murray to Russell Wilson in the way he throws the deep ball with accuracy. He also talked about Murray's ability to get out of the pocket and make plays. Glenn had a pretty good plan for Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson earlier this year, and said they'll have to be similarly disciplined defensively against Murray or he's capable of dropping 50 points on them.