The worrisome side of the Detroit Lions defense surfaced again in Week 10 against the Los Angeles Chargers. After the Chargers scored just a field goal over their first four drives, they had five straight touchdown drives. It appeared defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn had no ability to counter what the Chargers were doing, and as we've seen before when it rained it poured for the Lions' defense.
Head coach Dan Campbell of course expressed confidence Glenn would get the defense back on track moving forward. The schedule over the next five weeks, starting against the Chicago Bears and Justin Fields in Week 11, will definitely help. And they won't face many quarterbacks like Justin Herbert over the rest of the season (h/t to Colton Pouncy of The Athletic).
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Glenn was quick to defend his unit's performance against the Chargers and he leaned into what the Lions' defense has still done this season. Herbert got in a groove, and it was hard to stop it.
"So many people get caught up in, this is what happened in this game against a really good quarterback, all hell breaks loose. No it didn't, we're still a pretty damn good defense, we've played some good defense this year," Glenn said.
Aaron Glenn stretches a bit too far to defend Lions' defensive performance vs. Chargers
The Lions are in the top part of the league in hurry and pressure rate this season, but it has yielded 21 sacks and 18 of those have come in three games. The signing of Bruce Irvin this week should only help, but bypassing adding an edge rusher at the trade deadline looks like a mistake.
For his part, Glenn had pointed remarks when asked if the Lions' defense has the personnel it needs (h/t to 97.1 The Ticket).
"Listen, the guys that we have have put us in a position. We’re a top-10 defense. So I don’t even look into that. I think that’s one of the stupidest things you can think about,"
It's clear the Lions have had an issue against good (or remotely good) quarterbacks this season. Lamar Jackson, Geno Smith and Justin Herbert all set season-highs in EPA (Expected Points Added) per dropback against them. Patrick Mahomes in Week 1 is an exception, but outside of that they have done well against quarterbacks who aren't very good.
So if it's not personnel that's a root problem against better quarterbacks and offenses, then it must be the defensive scheme, the defensive calls, in-game adjustments (lack thereof) and/or how Glenn is deploying players to account for the talent on the other side.
By saying personnel is "one of the stupidest things you can think about", Glenn pointed the finger for last week's lackluster defensive performance (and any others like it that may come) directly at himself. It may have been intentional to not put blame on players, but it also wasn't very smart to say in a brief moment of frustration at being asked a pertinent question.