Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes recognized a weakness, and he attacked it in free agency by signing cornerbacks Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley before completing the first week of the signing period with C.J. Gardner-Johnson. In the second round of April's draft, the building of a budding secondary beast was completed with the addition of Brian Branch.
Branch made a splash play in Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs, but there were clear breakdowns in the back end that Chiefs' receivers bailed out by dropping the ball.
In Week 2, it was fair to assume the Seattle Seahawks' wide receivers would not bail out the Lions' secondary with rampant drops. That happened, as DK Metcalf, Tyler Locker, Jaxson Smith-Njigba combined for a fairly easy 19 receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Even Seattle's tight ends had a lot of success (nine receptions for 132 yards), but that can be pinned on the Lions' linebackers having a very bad day in coverage.
Moseley has yet to make his Lions' debut as he recovers from a torn ACL and also deal with a hamstring injury, and Gardner-Johnson's potentially season-ending torn pec will be a challenge to overcome.
But why has the Lions' secondary been so lackluster through two games?
Biggest reason the Detroit Lions' secondary has struggled is very simple
Three preseason games and the shift toward joint practices against preseason opponents during the week prior has created a delicate balance of when players should see action to get ready for the season. Emerging from the preseason as healthy as possible, with no major injuries to key players, is the priority. Most Lions' starters saw no action in preseason games this year.
So naturally, the first game action the remodeled Lions' secondary had together came in the season opener. In Week 2, there was no relief provided by mistakes as Geno Smith did whatever he wanted through the air and was rarely touched.
A good pass rush definitely helps a secondary, and the Lions have a big issue there two games in. But, via 97.1 The Ticket, safety Kerby Joseph noted a big issue the secondary had against Seattle (and Kansas City).
"Gotta play more sound, play more together," said safety Kerby Joseph. "When we can't communicate, we gotta use the signals and we just gotta talk better. We gotta find a way to get the calls and the communication together. "The mistakes, can’t have mistakes. ... noise is going to block out sound, that’s why we gotta use signals. We gotta get on-point with each other, we gotta get the communication down, we gotta get on the same page. If we’re not on the same page, that’s how mistakes happen."
Others in the secondary (Gardner-Johnson, Sutton, Jerry Jacobs) said similar things about coverage breakdowns, their own poor performance, etc. But Joseph hit the biggest issue at the base level--communication. That's the kind of thing that can best be figured out with game reps together, and those simply weren't going to come in preseason games--right or wrong.
Joseph also noted how the "only way to go is up" for the Lions secondary, especially after last week's performance. Fixing the communication breakdowns that have been noticeable thus far is the first step.