Detroit Lions Week 4 report card: Offensive outburst cannot mask defensive woes

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 02: Amani Oruwariye #24 of the Detroit Lions intercepts a pass for Tyler Lockett #16 of the Seattle Seahawks during the fourth quarter at Ford Field on October 02, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 02: Amani Oruwariye #24 of the Detroit Lions intercepts a pass for Tyler Lockett #16 of the Seattle Seahawks during the fourth quarter at Ford Field on October 02, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /
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Amani Oruwariye, Detroit Lions
Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Run defense: 0/5 stars 

In Week 3 against the Vikings, Detroit struggled mightily to defend the edges in the run game. That trend continued into this one, as once again the edge defenders had a difficult time. The interior run defense also showed some cracks in this game, which put too much strain on the linebackers–who also had a rough day.

Seattle came into this game averaging 74.7 yards per game on the ground, which was 29th in the league. They finished Sunday with 33 attempts for 235 yards, good for 7.1 yards per carry, and three touchdowns.

Perhaps more frustrating, three of the game’s biggest plays came down to Detroit failing to stop the run in third-down situations with a chance to get off the field.

The first was on a 3rd-and-18. Detroit crowded the line of scrimmage to send pressure, and Seattle countered with a draw play. After breaking through the line, Rashaad Penny only had to make one man miss en route to a 36-yard score. The second was a similar play, 3rd-and-5 with just over two minutes to go in the game. Detroit had a chance to get a stop and give their offense an opportunity to win the game. Once again, Seattle countered a Lions’ blitz with a draw play. And once again, it went to the house, this time for 41 yards by Penny. Finally, on the last play of the game (aside from kneel-downs), the Lions once again had a chance to get off the field and give the offense a chance to go down and win the game, Penny once again said no. He sprinted right through the Lions’ front to seal the game, and send Detroit to 1-3.

From all angles the run defense was just not good, getting progressively worse as the game went on and costing the Lions in key moments.

Pass defense: 0/5 stars

The Lions’ pass defense was also pretty brutal on Sunday. There was one concept in particular that Detroit simply could not stop all day. A “waggle” concept, where on a play-action bootleg either the tight end leaks into the flat, or a receiver in motion does. It gave the Lions’ defense fits all day, as the linebackers simply had no ability to get to the flats in time to make a play.

Even when the flats weren’t targeted though, the pass defense still could not do anything. Jeff Okudah had his first bump in the road of the season as he struggled to defend DK Metcalf, Amani Oruwariye once again had a rough outing and it ended with an injury, and rookie safety Kerby Joseph didn’t have a very memorable first start.

The defense simply had no answers for what Seattle was doing offensively, which shouldn’t be the case facing a team who came in averaging just 15.7 points per game. Geno Smith threw for 320 yard–that may say enough, and it all.

Best defensive player: No one

Worst defensive player(s): Everyone

We established the defense as a whole had a very forgettable outing. Getting more specific, Charles Harris and Aidan Hutchinson have both been far too inconsistent. Hutchinson at least had a couple of flash plays whether it was getting pressure or shooting into the backfield to stop a run play. Harris meanwhile was completely invisible outside of one good pass rush rep where he drew a holding penalty.

As far as the linebackers go, all of them had lackluster performances. Malcolm Rodriguez was the only one who was at least tolerable, but he was far from perfect. Derrick Barnes continues to be inconsistent when he gets on the field, especially when it comes to shooting gaps. Chris Board was really quiet in his limited work, but he got washed out a lot in run fits too. Then there’s Alex Anzalone, who was consistently the worst of the linebackers once again—constantly overplaying his hand against the run, missing tackles, and blowing coverage assignments. This might have been his worst game as a Lion, but there was a lot of that going around on Sunday.

Already touched on the secondary but to go a little deeper, it is shocking how much worse things look without Tracy Walker. We knew he was the captain of the defense and an invaluable part of the team, but for the whole unit to look this lost is a terrible sign. Kerby Joseph as mentioned before had a forgettable day, but he’s still probably the best option to fill that void since he has the most upside of the reserve safeties. JuJu Hughes will likely factor in more going forward but it would be nice to see Ifeatu Melifonwu get some work as well. Joseph’s role should by no means be secure going forward.