The bye week came at the perfect time for defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and the Lions' defense to reflect on how they got to where they are at five games into the season.
Glenn looked at both scheme and personnel, with some self-reflection too.
The defense currently ranks last in points allowed (34.0), last in total defense (428.6), last in rushing defense (167.6) and 26th against the pass (261.0). On the positive side, there's still 12 games left to try and come up with some answers that can help turn things around.
"We looked at the scheme, we looked at us as coaches and how we're coaching," Glenn said. "The things that we're asking our guys to do and they were really positive, they really were. Dan (Campbell) was a huge part of that just like he was with the offense. But I'm excited going forward about the things that we're going to do as a defense."
The defense will be put to the test right away as the team prepares to hit the road and face a Dallas Cowboys offense that's expected to get quarterback Dak Prescott back under center Sunday. They also have some explosive skill-position weapons.
Glenn said improving the pass rush is going to be a big part of playing better defense overall. Detroit's seven sacks on the year are tied for the fewest in the NFL. But it's not just about sack totals for Glenn, it's also about pressure and making quarterbacks more uncomfortable.
"We'll get some guys back, (John) Cominsky will be back, (Josh) Paschal will be ready," Glenn said. "Being able to use Aidan (Hutchinson) in other spots, allowing him to have some freedom to do some things also.
"And then, always man, we're trying to scheme up our guys for the best matchup. As long as we can continue to do that, as long as we continue to utilize each player in that magnitude, I think those things will always help us."
This week will be a good test on the road against a good offense to see if the bye week adjustments will translate to better play defensively on gameday.
CHARK IN WALKING BOOT
Wide receiver DJ Chark was in a walking boot in the locker room Thursday.
He told reporters it looks a lot worse than it is and that he's mainly using the boot for comfort and to accelerate the healing process.
Chark, who was signed this offseason to be a deep threat on the outside, has missed the last two games because of an ankle injury in the same foot he previously had surgery on to repair a fracture suffered last year. Chark hasn't practiced this week. He said there's currently no plan to have surgery or anything like that, and he intends to return this season.
STRENGTH ON STRENGTH
The Lions have done a pretty good job all season protecting quarterback Jared Goff. The seven sacks allowed are tied for the fewest in the league, but they'll be seriously tested Sunday in Dallas against a Cowboys pass rush that leads the NFL with 24.0 sacks on the season.
The Cowboys' front seven will be Detroit's biggest challenge yet, with Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence and Co. looking to add on to their league-leading sack numbers.
"Coach (Dan) Quinn has those guys playing well upfront," Lions offensive line coach Hank Fraley said Wednesday. "They love to get after the passer. We are looking forward to this matchup. It's been a long two weeks (while on the bye)."
Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said Thursday Parsons might be the best defensive player in the league right now. He plays all over the defense and leads the Cowboys with 6.0 sacks. He's among four Cowboys defenders with at least 3.0 sacks – Dorance Armstrong Jr. (5.0), Dante Fowler Jr. (3.0) and Lawrence (3.0). Dallas has 10 different players who've recorded at least one sack on the year.
When the Lions have done a good job protecting Goff this season and keeping him clean, he's completed 64.1 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and two interceptions, per Pro Football Focus stats. When pressured, that completion percentage drops to 49.1 with just three touchdowns vs. two interceptions.