The Detroit Lions have struggled defensively for the better part of a month, leading some to wonder if that side of the ball has a confidence problem in concert with lackluster play.
Has the Detroit defense lost its swagger amid some frustrating mistakes? That has become a debate, but linebacker Alex Anzalone doesn't see things that way.
On Tuesday, Anzalone was asked about the notion that the defense is missing its swagger.
"I wouldn't say completely lost confidence and swagger. I think it's still there. We definitely got settled in at times during that game and just weren't able to capitalize in late-game situations. So I wouldn't say all that, but just fly around (and) have fun doing it. I think that's one thing we definitely have to improve on. Just getting back to playing fast and playing free...Just play for each other, play fast, play free and fly around."
Perhaps the Lions are playing tight, or trying too hard to make things happen instead of playing loose.
Alex Anzalone praises Jalen Reeves-Maybin's impact on Detroit Lions' defense
A positive for Detroit's defense lately has been the play of reserve linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin.
Typically a special teams star, Reeves-Maybin has played a bigger role in the Lions' defense over the last couple weeks. Against the Bears, he totaled one tackle and one sack and played the way Anzalone referenced.
Anazalone is not surprised by Reeves-Maybin stepping up.
"It's not shocking at all. He's a great player. I dislike it when people say 'oh he's a great ball player.' I think he's a great linebacker in the NFL and I think that he's more than serviceable to be a starter. When he goes in he makes plays, and that's kind of what he does."
If the Lions are going to get things on a better track defensively going forward, Anzalone's leadership and level of play along with more play like Reeves-Maybin's will be key.