Every year a team enters the season with expectations. Whether that be expectations for win totals, improvement, a certain position group or player, every team goes into the year expecting something. For the Lions one of the big questions was simple: who was going to take the second outside corner position opposite Amani Oruwariye? Jeff Okudah’s future was in question after two injury riddled years, AJ Parker and Mike Hughes were more slot orientated, and Jerry Jacobs was injured. Never once did it come into question who cb1 was going to be. Oruwariye was coming off of a six interception season and was considered by many to be a Pro bowl snub. That starting position was locked down.
Fast forward to after week 8, and we’re in an entirely different situation. Jeff Okudah has been lock down and Oruwariye has been the worst cornerback in football. Six penalties against the Vikings in a close loss, giving up tons of yards week in and week out, lining up nearly an entire yard offside on the goal line two plays in a row. It got so bad that he was benched going into the patriots game and was only brought back the next week due to injury concerns. He’s been PFF’s worst rated cornerback in the league, and his poor play contributed to the firing of DB coach Aubrey Pleasant.
Amani came into this year with high expectations and has been a massive letdown, but why? Is it a scheme issue, bad matchups, or has he just been plain bad?
The Lions defense hasn’t been great at getting pressure through the season, which of course reflects negatively on DB’s. But with Okudah and rookie safety Kerby Joseph playing so well, it seems that it’s an individual problem for Oruwariye. He has struggled mightily in man coverage, and it was shown off Sunday where, facing Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, he let up 7 catches on 7 targets for over 120 yards. In his great season last year, he also let up a lot of yards, but this year he’s not getting the interceptions, and is committing far too many penalties. His play has been unacceptable, which I’m sure he’d agree with, seeing as how professional he is and how good of a leader he is. He has to turn it around and make something of this awful start to the season, because he becomes a free agent this offseason, and he needs to play better to earn a starting cornerback level contract anywhere in the league.