The inability to execute the previous system was an issue
All of that being said, the Lions’ defense wasn’t without some positive moments. Even while playing a vanilla scheme, they played hard and aggressive.
Julian Okwara certainly deserves to be mentioned for his pressure off the edge. He only got home for one sack, but the Bills were very conscious of his presence in the second half.
We didn’t get to see Derrick Barnes that much, but when on the field he found the ball and made the tackle. That alone gives him an opportunity to crack the lineup considering how many missed tackles we saw early in the game.
Defensive tackle Kevin Strong led the Lions with five tackles and linebacker Anthony Pittman was active with four tackles of his own as was cornerback Mike Ford. Now outside of injuries to any starters, those three won’t be gathering a whole lot of playing time, but they are making names for themselves as valuable depth on a team that needs all it can get.
My biggest takeaway regarding the Lions’ defense was that while there is certainly more work to be done, this isn’t a completely destitute unit. Dan Campbell, Aaron Glenn, and the rest of the defensive staff have been given some talent to work with.
It isn’t enough to have a lockdown defense, but it’s enough to be respectable, provided they play with better communication and awareness. Making tackles at the point of contact would really help a lot too.
However, if we analyze what the Bills offense did all night long, every big play coincided with poor tackling or missed assignments by a Lions defense that needed to be more aware of what the offense was doing.
Part of what has had the Lions’ defense in the doghouse over the course of the previous regime’s time here in Detroit was players not being able to execute that system.
Aaron Glenn’s defense is made to be aggressive and give his defenders less to think about so they can play faster. That doesn’t mean they don’t have to put any thought into it because playing defense, even when doing so in a highly aggressive manner, still requires the ability to react.
In a preseason game that the Lions didn’t game plan for, those mistakes are a little easier to overlook, but improvement still has to be made.
No, the Lions’ defense this season won’t turn into the Purple People-Eaters or even Detroit’s own Silver Rush from back in the very early 1980s. Yet they do have enough talent to compete. The offense will certainly have to help them by finding the endzone with some regularity, but it certainly appears that the defense will be improved enough that the Honolulu Blue and Silver should be competitive win or lose.