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. Statistically the Lions' defense was good last week in Atlanta. The Falcons rushed for only 47 yards and had 254 yards of total offense in Detroit's 20-16 loss. But Glenn said when he looked deeper into the performance he thought Atlanta took advantage of some zone looks and were able to dink and dunk themselves into sustaining drives. This week, Glenn wants to be much better in some of their zone matchups.
2. The two areas where Lynn thinks rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has improved the most since the spring is in his route running and his coverage recognition. St. Brown was just named the NFC Rookie of the Month after catching 35 passes for 350 yards and three touchdowns over the last month. Lynn said he's a player who gets better every week and is trending toward being a No.1-type receiver in this league.
3. Fipp told a good story about punter Jack Fox and how when evaluating his throwing arm this past offseason – Fox is a former high school quarterback – Fipp said Fox's first throw has horrible. He thought the trick plays with Fox as a passer were off the table. But Fipp gave him a few more chances, and Fox proceeded to show off a pretty good cannon for an arm. He's completed a couple passes on fake punts this year, and that's become a weapon in his arsenal.
4. Detroit drafted rookie cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu in the third round this past offseason. Glenn said these last two games are big for him to continue to show he can be a matchup piece for the defense. Melifonwu has elite size at 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds. Glenn thinks Melifonwu can be one of their main players on defense moving forward.
5. Some don't adhere to the theory that momentum from one season can carry into the next, just because of the turnover of rosters every year, but Lynn very much believes in it. He said he's been part of teams that finished strong and carried that into the offseason and started hot the next year. Lynn thinks the Lions have a really good personnel department, and will naturally be more talented next season because of it, so it they can carry some momentum from a strong finish into the offseason. He thinks it could do wonders for the Lions in 2022.
6. Fipp, speaking specifically to special teams, doesn't believe in momentum from one year to the next, because he deals with the bottom third of the roster. That's typically where the most turnover happens. He has core principles and schemes he believes in, but Fipp said a good special teams coach will build a plan around the players they have, and so special-teams-wise it's almost always a complete reset every year.
7. Glenn said the safety position is really important in his defense for two main reasons: One, he called it a playmaking position. There are times when those players are free to read the quarterback and be playmakers. The good ones take advantage of that. Two, the safety is the "quarterback of the defense" in terms of getting everyone lined up and being a good communicator. Tracy Walker has done a nice job all year handling the position.
8. Running back Jamaal Williams is a strong, physical runner, and Lynn said his style can grind on a defense over the course of a game. Lynn said the tough, three and four-yard runs Williams gets in the first quarter can turn into 11 and 12-yard runs in the fourth quarter after wearing down a defense. That's what he loves about his game.
9. Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin is a player who's proven this year he can take really good special teams skills and translate them to the defensive side of the ball. Fipp isn't surprised by that because he special teams players are typically passionate, unselfish and have a chip on their shoulder for more opportunity.
10. Seattle's offense has struggled a bit this season, but Glenn said they still do a good job stretching a defense in the run game, and then when a defensive play caller responds to that, that's when they do a good job in the play-action game going over the top to wide receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Glenn said he really has to be on his game as a play caller Sunday.