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10 takeaways from Undlin & Coombs

Defensive coordinator Cory Undlin and special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs spoke to the media Tuesday following Detroit's 34-30 victory over the Bears in Chicago Sunday and ahead of Sunday's matchup against division-leading Green Bay at Ford Field this upcoming Sunday.

Here are 10 takeaways from those media sessions:

1. Just like how the reigning Super Bowl champion gets every opponent's best shot the next year, Undlin says there will be a little extra juice in the defensive meeting room this week with Green Bay bringing the No. 1 scoring offense and No. 2 overall offense into Ford Field for Sunday's matchup at Ford Field.

2. Matt Prater is making 72 percent of his field goals this season, which is the lowest percentage of his career.

"I'm frustrated with his percentage right now, he and I are frustrated with it together," Coombs said.

A lot of it is situation and the kicks he's missed being longer kicks, though Coombs said that's not an excuse. Coombs still has a ton of confidence in Prater to make kicks when called upon to do so.

3. What was the biggest difference Sunday on defense between the first and second half? Chicago scored three touchdowns, a field goal and punted just once in the first half. The second half looked much different as the Bears scored just one touchdown, punted three times, fumbled once and turned it over on downs to end the game.

Undlin said there were some adjustments made at the half to take some pressure off some players, but he said the biggest difference was that players tackled better in the last 30 minutes and were in better position to make plays.

4. Coombs was asked what goes in a kicker first – distance or accuracy? Coombs said it's been his experience that distance is the first to go, but he doesn't have that worry with Prater.

"Make no mistake about it, guy still has a cannon for a leg," Coombs said. "I'm not worried about that right now."

5. What's the key for Detroit's defense this week trying to slow down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense? Undlin said first down is going to be the key to this game. They can't let Green Bay have success on first down and then get into great down-and-distance situations on second and third down like they had all game in Green Bay's blow-out victory over Detroit Week 2.

Green Bay ranks No. 4 in the NFL in third-down efficiency at 47.8 percent and a big reason for that is they're pretty good on first and second down. Undlin said being good on defense Sunday will be the definition of being good at both rush and cover.

6. How are practice squad punter Arryn Siposs and long snapper Steven Wirtel coming along in their development? Coombs said it's too bad neither player got to play in the preseason and put what they can do on tape because he thinks they would have gotten an opportunity to play for another team this year if they had.

That's obviously Detroit's gain, and Coombs said he told both players just to take advantage of a year of NFL training and they'll likely get their shots to play here in Detroit or somewhere else in 2021.

7. Defensive end Romeo Okwara is having a terrific season. He's arguably been Detroit's MVP on defense in 2020. He's on pace to hit double-digit sacks for the first time in his career, and the thing Undlin is most impressed with when it comes to Okwara is his consistency all season.

"Kid shows up every single day and does nothing but work," Undlin said of Okwara.

8. Speaking of Okwara, he blocked an extra point in Chicago Sunday, his second blocked kick of the season. Coombs said it's pretty rare to have a guy who means as much to the defense as Okwara does who is also willing to play special teams and love doing it. Coombs considers himself pretty fortunate in that regard.

9. What might the second half performance on defense in Chicago do for the confidence of Lions defenders moving forward? Undlin thinks it definitely gave them a boost. He said it proves to them they can play a bad half or have a bad series, and if they continue to play for 60 minutes, they can make plays and impact the game. Detroit's got some confidence on defense heading into Sunday.

10. Detroit ranks 20th in kickoff return and 13th in punt returns. Jamal Agnew hasn't been able to spring a big one so far this year, but Coombs isn't giving up hope. He told reporters to stay tuned.

"I still do believe it's coming," Coombs said. "I still do think we're close. So, stay tuned, we'll see. We just have to keep working to try and give (Jamal Agnew) a little bit more opportunity. Him, myself and the rest of the guys have to keep the faith that if we just keep banging on the door we're going to knock it down and hit one of these. I know I certainly believe that."

Coombs thought overall Sunday was his unit's worst performance of the season, and he said those guys are chomping at the bit to get back out there.

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