Dan Campbell: “I Have A Lot of Faith in Aaron Glenn” Despite the Detroit Lions Subpar Defense

Dan Campbell, the second-year coach of the Detroit Lions, says he will do a “deep dive” into his defense, but he doesn’t sound ready to make any drastic adjustments like he did on the offensive side of the ball last year.

In a 48-45 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Ford Field, the Lions league-worst defense wasted a surprisingly strong effort by their offense on a day when they were without their three top offensive playmakers.

Aidan Hutchinson, a rookie defensive end, commented, “That was a poor defensive performance.” “We have to do better. When your offense scores 45 I think we have to win that game.”

As the Lions battled to stop a Seattle offense that scored 47 points in its first three games, tied for the fourth-fewest in the league, Geno Smith threw for 320 yards and two more touchdowns while Rashaad Penny ran for 151 yards and two scores on the ground.

The Seahawks (2-2) ended their first eight possessions with a score or field goal attempt, totaling 555 yards of offense on Sunday. They failed to score on just two of their nine possessions for the day, when Jason Myers missed a field goal attempt from 39 yards wide left in the third quarter due to a poor snap and when they took two kneel-down plays to conclude the game.

In addition, the Lions gave up their most yards since giving up 588 yards in a defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers late in 2020 and their most points since a 51-29 loss to the Seahawks in Week 17 of the previous season.

According to Campbell, his defense lacks confidence and consistently commits mistakes, which “falls into our boats as coaches” and allows a league-worst 35.3 points per game.

Campbell added, “I just don’t feel our swagger. “I mean, we knew if we could get this team in second-and-long that would go a long way and then, we would — you would need to produce because it’s been an area where that team has not been as good. And boy, we didn’t make the most of it. Now look, they got us in a couple of third downs there late, third-and-longs that we have not been exposed to yet. And they gutted us. They got us good. And it was good designs by them, good play designs and in critical moments, they — it was good. It was real good by them.”

This week, before the Lions (1-3) host the New England Patriots (1-3), Campbell, who ousted offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn after an 0-8 start to last season, said he’s “going to look at everything” from players to systems. Week 6 will also be a bye week.

He backed second-year coordinator Aaron Glenn, saying that doesn’t imply he will have a bigger role in managing the defense.

“I’ve got a lot of faith in Aaron Glenn,” Campbell said. “I’ve got a ton of faith in those assistants, and I think it’s just — I think we sit down and I think we look at everything together. Because really, I think more than anything maybe it’s time for a deep dive, a real deep dive into it. Players, everything that we’re doing, but I also trust what he’s doing. And there’s a reason why I hired him, and so I want to let him do his job. But certainly, I’m going — I mean, I’ve got to look a lot deeper than I have.”

For a Lions team that played without leading rusher D’Andre Swift, leading receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, and deep threat DJ Chark due to injuries, Jared Goff completed 26 of 39 passes for 378 yards and four touchdowns on Sunday.

The Lions had strong performances from Jamaal Williams (19 carries, 108 yards, and two touchdowns) and T.J. Hockenson (8 catches, 179 yards, and two touchdowns), but they were unable to stop a Seahawks offense that was adept at moving the ball via air and ground.

Early in the third quarter, Smith, a journeyman quarterback on his fourth NFL squad, completed 16 of his first 18 passes and had a perfect passer rating.

Dominik Eberle, the Lions’ temporary kicker, missed two extra goals after the Seahawks scored two touchdowns. The Seahawks increased their advantage to 16 points on the first play of the third quarter when Tariq Woolen returned a Goff interception for 40 yards and a touchdown.

“Just a bad decision,” Goff said. “Late, bad decision. Can’t do it. Dumb.”

With 6:30 remaining in the third quarter, the Lions narrowed their deficit to 31-23 when a bizarre series of events turned the tide in favor of Seattle.

When Smith completed a pass intended for a group of receivers to his left on third-and-16 from the 36-yard line, the Lions appeared to have made a crucial stop. However, shortly after the pass was delivered, an official on the Lions sideline blew the play dead due to a problem with the game clock.

The Lions set up in an all-out blitz with eight men on the line of scrimmage while supporters jeered the second chance. Smith sent the ball to Penny, who sprinted through a big opening on the right side of the line after a pulling block from left guard Damien Lewis.

As Lions supporters booed officials and flung objects onto the field, Penny juked Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye at the 25 and raced untouched to the end zone to give the Seahawks a 38-23 lead.

On the following drive, the Lions responded after Hockenson’s 81-yard run and catch to set up a Goff 3-yard touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds. However, the final frame saw a scoreless tie until Penny’s 41-yard touchdown run on third-and-five with 2:14 remaining to give Seattle the victory.

After the game, Campbell attempted to divert some of the criticism away from his defense by claiming that the Lions can’t have turnovers (Kalif Raymond also lost a fumble that led to a Seattle score) and that he and his staff are to blame for the unit’s recurrent failures.

The team’s disappointing 1-3 start, according to defensive captain Alex Anzalone, is the result of poor defensive play.

“I mean, look at the four games,” he said. “I mean, (in a Week 2 win against Washington) I think we did a good job in the first half and then they were in a throwing the ball situation and trying to do their best plays, so that’s why you give up those points. But the other three games I feel like, you don’t want to blame fingers but as a defensive player you look in the mirror as like, ‘What could I do personally and what could bring guys along to get done going forward?’ It’s a tough situation to be in.”

The Lions have only two takeaways on the season, have given up at least 27 points in every game this season, and failed to register a sack on Sunday.

“Not a real good performance, which falls on me,” Campbell said. “We weren’t real sharp, it wasn’t real clean, we had penalties, we had turnovers, one of those was for seven points which was the difference in the game. And then, defensively, man, we weren’t good. Special teams made some plays, but then there were a couple we gave up too. So, it was just — it wasn’t clean and that’s on me.”
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