Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp spoke to the media Thursday as they do every week. He are my 10 biggest takeaways from those media sessions:
1. The Lions' defense is second in the NFL in third-down defense (27.8 percent), but the team is 0-4. Glenn said the emphasis for his unit is to be more consistent as a run defense, be better with second-down efficiency, and they have to find a way to limit all the big plays they've given up. Detroit's 23 plays of 20-plus yards allowed are second most in NFL.
2. Lynn is a strong believer in the hot hand, and that's why we saw more carries for running back Jamaal Williams (14) last week in Chicago. Williams averaged 4.7 yards per carry, while D’Andre Swift averaged 2.0 yards on eight carries. Lynn said going back and watching the tape he actually wished he would have gone to Williams more in a few situations. Expect the carries between Swift and Williams to fluctuate weekly based on the hot hand early on.
3. Fipp said the decision on who will kick Sunday for Detroit in Minnesota will likely be made following Thursday's practice. Austin Seibert came off the Reserve/COVID-19 list this week, and Fipp said he kicked well Wednesday. Ryan Santoso has done a nice job filling in the last two weeks, so the Lions have a decision to make.
4. Missed tackles have been an issue for Glenn as he's evaluated his defense over the first month of the season. The Lions are graded the second worst tackling team in the NFL by Pro Football Focus after four games. Glenn said aside from the missed tackles, he thinks they're giving up too much "leaky yardage" where guys fall forward for three more yards when being tackled. It's something he expects them to clean up moving forward.
5. It was good to see rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown contribute more in the stat sheet last week against the Bears. He had six receptions for 70 yards. Lynn has praised St. Brown in previous weeks for doing some of the little things – mostly blocking down the field – that have helped the team but don't show up all the time in the box score.
6. Punter Jack Fox has been terrific to start his second season after earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2020. He's third in the NFL in net punting average (45.0) and fourth in punting average (49.9). The big focus for Fox heading into this season was improving his punting in and around midfield to pin opponents deep in those opportunities. Fox is top six in the league with seven punts inside the 20-yard line, and he has yet to record a touchback.
7. It's expected that undrafted rookie cornerback Jerry Jacobs will get more playing time moving forward. Glenn said both Jacobs and Bobby Price will play against the Vikings Sunday. Asked about Jacobs specifically on Thursday, Glenn said Jacobs' body type reminded him of Saints defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who Glenn coached in New Orleans the last two seasons. Glenn said both players are ultra-competitive, and he sees the same fight and dog mentality with Jacobs as he saw with Gardner-Johnson, who was on the Pro Football Writers All-Rookie Team in 2019.
8. Lynn said the team has a plan in place if rookie left tackle Penei Sewell can't play due to an ankle injury. He obviously didn't share that plan with the media, but it was good to see Sewell back at practice Thursday working with a trainer on his kick steps and pushing off the ball. Sewell didn't show any noticeable limping. Game designations come out Friday.
9. According to Fipp, veteran linebacker Anthony Pittman has become a really core special teams player. Pittman played on 90 percent of the special teams snaps in Chicago, and hasn't played in less than 80 percent of the snaps on special teams in any game this season. He joins Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Jason Cabinda and Jacobs as core guys for the Lions on special teams.
10. The Lions won't have center Frank Ragnow Sunday because he was placed on IR with a toe injury. Evan Brown is expected to start in his place, and Lynn said Brown did a fine job stepping in last week and playing most of the game in Chicago. Lynn called Brown a solid center who stepped in and did what he was supposed to do as a backup.