One of the more important statistics to come out of last week’s second preseason game in Houston were the two turnovers the Lions generated on defense by two newcomers to that unit.
Rookie safety Will Harris picked up a fumble forced by defensive end Romeo Okwara and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. On the very next series, veteran safety Andrew Adams stepped in front of a Joe Webb pass for an interception.
“I was the deep defender and half-field safety and I saw the No. 2 receiver go away, which only leaves the one receiver on my field,” Adams said of the play. “I saw him inside release, so I knew there was some type of in-cut. I was getting ready to break and just looking at the quarterback and the quarterback came back to that side of the field and that was his only option.”
Adams described the play as a veteran player being in his fourth year, following his cues, and being aware and instinctive. Adams recorded four interceptions last year. His ball skills and ability to generate takeaways is part of what made him so attractive to Detroit in free agency
Detroit’s looking to generate more turnovers. Adams has been one of the more consistent players throughout training camp in that regard, though he also admitted he should have had two interceptions in Houston. He mistimed a jump on a ball that led to a touchdown instead of a turnover.
The Lions have been moving Adams around, and have even been using him in some sub packages to get him on the field.
Detroit recorded the second fewest takeaways in the NFL last season (14). Their seven interceptions were also the second fewest in the league.
The top seven teams in the NFL last season in turnover differential all made the playoffs.
“Other than points, turnovers is the quickest way to win a game or lose a game,” Adams said. “I would say that’s definitely something as a defense we’re working on and are actually improving on it. I just can’t wait for the season because of the types of strides we’re making and the type of turnovers we’re getting.”
Adams is also a big believer that plays like the ones we saw last week in Houston can be contagious for a defense.
“Very contagious,” he said. “It’s like energy. It’s contagious.”
Generating more turnovers has been a huge focus for Detroit's defense this offseason. We’ll see if they can build on last week and get some more this week when Buffalo comes to town for the third preseason contest for both teams.
“You’d like to try and build on that,” head coach Matt Patricia said after the Houston game about the turnovers generated by his defense. “I think it’s one of those things where you put such an emphasis on it that when it finally happens hopefully it catches fire and it kind of goes that way going forward.”