Glover Quin likes what he has seen from the Detroit Lions' defense in its first real game of the season.
Contributions from front to back in the Lions' 35-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals offered evidence that the defense has improved in critical areas over last season.
Pressure up front was good, with more impact than the single sack of Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer would indicate. Linebackers helped cut off the running lanes. And the Lions dominated the turnover battle, with three interceptions from the secondary and a fumble recovery from rookie middle linebacker Jarrad Davis.
The defense's overall performance drew praise from ESPN analyst Jon Gruden in his preview of the upcoming Lions-Giants game on Monday Night TV.
"Their defense is better than people think," Gruden said this week on ESPN's Mike & Mike show. "They can rush the passer, and they have a very opportunistic secondary. I like Glover Quin a lot at the free safety positon."
Gruden also noted how the Lions added free-agent cornerback DJ Hayden in the offseason, and the return of nickel back Quandre Diggs from a season-ending injury.
"With Darius Slay, that's a formidable outfit," Gruden continued. "I can't wait to see their secondary go up against the Giants.
"I just hope Odell Beckham plays."
Quin appreciated the comments from Gruden, former head coach of the Raiders and Buccaneers and a Super Bowl winner with the Bucs, but he added a customary note of caution.
"I didn't hear what he said," Quin this week. "It's cool. We played one game."
What the performance means in terms of carryover to Game 2 – with or without Beckham in the lineup – remains to be seen. Quin thinks Beckham will play.
"Monday night game, home opener – you've got to expect him to be out there in some capacity," Quin said. "You just have to understand where he's at. He's an explosive guy. He can turn a short pass into a long touchdown.
"He demands a different type of attention because he is so dynamic. You've always got to prepare like he'll be there, but if he's not, he's not."
As Quin said after the game, getting turnovers is something he preaches to his teammates. It was an area that was seriously in need of upgrading from a year ago. Getting four turnovers was a defensive highlight of Game 1.
The Lions had only 14 takeaways last year. That was tied for fourth fewest in the league, and also the fewest of any team with a winning record. The Lions had 10 interceptions. Dallas, with nine, was the only team with a winning record that had fewer.
"Just because you get a turnover doesn't automatically give the offense field position," Quin said. "But it does give the offense the ball. It does change the momentum of the game. That's huge – taking a possession away and giving it back to your offense."
All four of the Lions' turnovers were on legitimate defensive plays as opposed to flukes or misplays by the opponent. For example, a quarterback pulling out from under center without the ball, or the center snapping the ball over the quarterback's head while he's in the shotgun formation are misplays not caused by the defense.
Two Lions touchdowns were set up by turnovers – Quin's second-quarter interception and a third-quarter fumble recovery by Jarrad Davis. Safety Miles Killebrew returned a fourth-quarter interception for a clinching touchdown.
Quin talked about the pass rush and coverage going in hand. His interception was an example of that. It was caused in part by pressure that caused Palmer to make an errant throw.
"He couldn't step up how he wanted to," Quin said. "He tried to throw it over some people. All those things go hand in hand. Pass rush goes hand in hand with good coverage.
"We can force the quarterback to throw the ball errantly. The guys have to be in position to make the play when he does throw it."