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 usually opens his Thursday presser with some thoughts on the good and the bad from the previous week's performance. Outside of the first three-and-out from his defense, Glenn said there was nothing else good about the 51 points allowed by his defense in Seattle, and he thought they were both outplayed and out-coached by the Seahawks.
2. Lions starting quarterback Jared Goff returned to practice this week after missing last week's game in Seattle with a knee injury. Lynn said Goff moved around and threw the ball well during Wednesday's practice. He admitted Goff isn't 100 percent, but who is at this time of year?
3. The Lions have been able to recover a few onside kicks this season, and Fipp said that's partly due to the rule changes that have made it easier on the kicking team to recover, but also because of the film study they put in during the week and the effort and execution by the players on those plays.
Fipp talked a little bit about the detail that goes into that play, particularly the way last week they laid the ball flat on the tee to generate slow forward spin so they can control where the ball goes, but at a slow enough rate so the kicking team can get to the 10-yard line when the ball arrives. It's so interesting to a football nerd like me to listen to some of the details and behind-the-scenes work that goes into some of the stuff that happens on gameday.
4. The emergence of Will Harris as a do-it-all player in the secondary gives the Lions some flexibility this offseason. This league has become a league of versatility and flexibility, and there's value to having players like Harris, who played every position in the Lions secondary at some point in 2021. Harris still needs to grow his game, but Glenn loves the value in having players like him on his defense.
5. Rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown definitely hasn't hit the rookie wall. In fact, he's been excelling the last five weeks. Where is one area Lynn would like to see St. Brown continue to improve heading into the offseason? Lynn said he'll encourage St. Brown to study and watch tape of all the best receivers in the league. He said St. Brown, like most receivers, is a visual learner, and that will be his biggest piece of advice heading into the offseason.
6. The Lions appear to be in a pretty good place moving forward at the kicker position with Riley Patterson and Austin Seibert (IR). Fipp likes both young kickers, and thinks the future is bright for both guys.
7. Glenn had a head coaching interview in last year's hiring cycle. Asked about the possibility of interviewing for head coach jobs this year, he said his only focus is on trying to be the best defensive coordinator the Lions have ever had. If an interview comes, it comes, but Glenn chooses to remain in the here and now for the moment.
8. Lynn has had to deal with injuries and absences from the offensive line all season long, so having to practice and figure out a plan for potentially not having either starting tackle – Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell due to COVID-19 – on Sunday is nothing new. Lynn said he has confidence in Matt Nelson, Dan Skipper, Will Holden and the other reserve tackles who have gotten a lot of playing time this year if they need to step in and play starting roles. Lynn did say there's still a chance with the league's new return-to-play protocols that Decker and Sewell are able to play Sunday.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022.
9. One thing Fipp says the Lions have to watch out for this week against Green Bay is how the Packers have found a sideline return scheme they like and do a pretty good job with. Detroit's been good all year limiting the big plays in the special teams game. Can they do it one more time this year?
10. Safety Tracy Walker has been a steady player in the back end of the Lions' defense all season. A pending free agent, Walker has certainly had a bounce-back year after an inconsistent 2020 campaign. Walker leads the Lions with 94 tackles. Glenn said the area Walker has improved the most this year is with his communication. He's become the quarterback of the defense, and Glenn said Walker's bought into everything they've asked of him schematically. Glenn said he'd be in favor of signing Walker back for 2022 and beyond.