Defensive coordinator Cory Undlin and special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs spoke to the media Tuesday following Detroit's 31-24 loss to Green Bay Sunday, and as they began preparing game plans for this week's road matchup in Tennessee against the Titans.
Here are 10 takeaways from those media sessions:
1. Tennessee's offense is a little old school as Undlin described them Tuesday in that they play a lot of 12 personnel (one RB, two TEs) and 21 personnel (two RBs, one TE) so they can be physical in the run game with Derrick Henry, the league's top rusher this season with over 1,500 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. The league is trending toward more passing, but Tennessee hits you with some old-school concepts.
2. Coombs has said for the last couple weeks he thought his special teams unit was close to breaking a big return, and he got one Sunday vs. Green Bay, when Jamal Agnew had a 71-yard kickoff return that set up a late field goal. Coombs said 10 of the 11 players on the field for that play graded out 100 percent, which he said was rare to have that many on one particular play.
3. The Titans have the fourth most rushing attempts (415) on the year. Undlin said Titans head coach Mike Vrabel doesn't care if a team knows the run is coming, he's still going to run it.
"He (quarterback Ryan Tannehill) comes out of the huddle and just turns around and says, 'Hey, I'm just going to hand it off to this guy, he's going to run right over here and we'll see if you can tackle him.'"
4. Agnew did get tackled by the kicker on that 71-yard return, and Coombs said the guys have been having a little fun at his expense because of it.
"(Agnew) will have to put a few dollars in the swear jar this week," Coombs said. "We don't get tackled by kickers and punters here. He'll have to pony up there."
Coombs said sometimes big returns come in bunches, and his hope for the last three games is that the flood gates open up.
5. The Titans' ability to run the ball effectively gives them really good balance on offense when it comes to their passing game. So much attention from the defense is focused on Henry that Tennessee has one of the more effective play-action passing games in the league, per Undlin, and they create big gaps behind the linebackers and in front of the safeties. Detroit will have to be good about being disciplined and tightening that window Sunday.
6. Coombs highlighted blocks by Bobby Price, Jason Cabinda and Kerryon Johnson, who had a knockdown block, for helping to spring Agnew on that long kickoff return.
7. It's not just Henry that plays physical on the Titans' offense. Undlin said receivers Corey Davis and A.J. Brown are very physical on the outside, and both have big catch radiuses that Tannehill utilizes.
8. Coombs said the onside kick the Lions nearly recovered at the end of the game, a play that had to be reviewed, was about as close as you can get. He's still waiting to hear from the league for clarity as to why it was ruled no recovery, whether the officials ruled the ball hit out of bounds right before Miles Killebrew grabbed it, or whether Killebrew stepped out and didn't reestablish himself inbounds before touching it. It was close on both accounts.
9. Tackling will be key Sunday for Detroit's defense. The Lions are top five in the NFL in missed tackles, per Pro Football Reference. Undlin said they have to be really good tackling, and they'll need all 11 guys playing their part.
10. Back to the onside kick. The new rules and alignments have made it harder for the kicking team to recover the ball on that play. Kicking teams no longer get a running start and have to have five guys on either side of the kicker, so there's not a lot Coombs said he can scheme on those plays. He said that play has become about the kickers and how they can manipulate the ball with different kinds of kicks. It's something Jack Fox and Matt Prater strategize and work on.