3 Lions who need to play a lot better if Detroit is going to make it to the Super Bowl

If the Detroit Lions are going to pay off their postseason run with a trip to the Super Bowl, these three players will have to play better against the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.

Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports
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1. CB Cameron Sutton

Last week, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn defended Sutton in the wake of recent struggles against a run of top-notch wide receivers.

Listen, he's handled those like a pro," Glenn said about the recent stretch of tough assignments for Sutton. "...Listen, everybody has an opinion. Everybody does. A lot of them don't know what the hell they're talking about, for the most part....The thing that he’s doing a good job of is he’s staying within himself, he’s built himself a cocoon and he understands exactly what we’re asking him to do. And listen, we’re going to continue to challenge him to be the best Cam that he can be on a weekly basis. And listen, we’re happy with him."

Glenn can't truly be happy with the lack of impact Sutton has had, all season and particularly over the last several weeks.

Following Glenn's comments, per Next Gen Stats, Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans did this when lined up across from Sutton last Sunday.


It's truly a wonder Tampa Bay didn't go after Sutton with Evans more often than they did.

On Tuesday, during his appearance on 97.1 The Ticket (h/t to Lions Wire), head coach Dan Campbell took the baton to defend Sutton.

"That’s that’s the nature of playing the position. And if you’re a quarterback or cornerback, we talk about all the time — you’ve got to have a short memory, short-term memory,” Campbell said Tuesday. “And things are going to happen. And the most important thing in those positions is to bounce back."

Campbell is right about cornerbacks needing to have a short memory, and leave bad plays behind. He was also sure to make note of a play Sutton made on Rams' wide receiver Puka Nacua in the Wild Card game. You're excused if you don't remember it.

"He makes a huge play on Puka. And that’s what it’s about here,” Campbell said. “And we’ll mix the coverages; he’ll do what he does. But Cam’s going to be just fine.”

When targeted in primary coverage over the last four games, Sutton has allowed 26 completions on 32 targets for 467 yards and three touchdowns. From Week 16 through the Wild Card game, narrowed to going against Justin Jefferson (in two games), CeeDee Lamb, Cooper Kupp and Nacua, according to Pro Football Focus, he allowed 22 catches on 26 targets for 403 yards and three touchdowns along with a 141.2 passer rating allowed. Two different spans, covering some of the same games but with some different data specifics...all pretty ugly.

Sutton will likely be matched up against Deebo Samuel (if he's able to go), or Brandon Aiyuk regularly on Sunday. Samuel's talent level goes without saying, but Aiyuk is no slouch himself.

During the regular season, Aiyuk was second in the league in yards per catch (17.9) and yards per target (12.8), as he finished seventh in the league in receiving yards (1,342). He also had a top-20 average depth of target (13.9 aDOT).

Regardless of who he's asked to cover in the new biggest game of the Lions' season, Sutton needs to turn around his recent trend and find a level of play he really hasn't found this year.

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