| Detroit Free Press
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Cory Undlin was ready for the question.
The Detroit Lions’ defensive coordinator signaled Tuesday he was through being caught off guard — at least in a news conference — when he whispered “there it is” while he was asked to explain why his defense had been caught with 10 players on the field for the second straight week.
“It’s embarrassing is what it is,” he said. “I would say this: It’s just poor, poor coaching is what it is. I mean, you guys know how the situation works. I get the (offensive) personnel from (coaches in the press box), then based on the personnel — we don’t really do anything until we know what the offense has out there.
“If we get confused or if our guys upstairs can’t see it, or if — I know a lot of times I can just look over there and see who’s coming in and who’s coming out. Sometimes depending on where the ball is at, I have to rely on the guys that are upstairs, and they tell me, and then I call the personnel on defense, and they go out there. Each position coach is responsible for getting his guys on the field, and that’s how it goes down. I make the call and that’s how it goes down.”
That certainly explained the procedural workings of how coaches decide which players to send out on the field. But it didn’t shed much light on how the Lions made the same mistake in consecutive weeks.
In a Week 8 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the Lions ran two plays with 10 defenders on the field. The Colts converted a two-point conversion on one and had a 6-yard run on the other. In Sunday’s loss at Minnesota, the Lions appeared to be missing a right defensive end on Dalvin Cook’s 70-yard touchdown run.
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Lions safety Duron Harmon tried Monday to take accountability for the number of defenders on the field. But Undlin absolved Harmon of any guilt and said the responsibility of communication ultimately rests with him.
The miscommunication that leads to Lions having 10 men on field
Detroit Lions coach Cory Undlin explains Nov. 10, 2020, the process of calling defensive plays and how “bad coaching” led to 10 men on the field.
“It’s poor coaching,” he said. “I met with the whole defense yesterday and I told them exactly the same thing. We’re trying to be critical of these guys, put a lot of pressure on these guys all the time. Then when we as coaches can’t get 11 guys out there — that’s on us.
“So the remedy is we have to do a better job. I heard some comments about Duron trying to stand up and say, ‘Hey, man, I have to do a better job counting.’ Duron has enough stuff on his plate. He doesn’t need to be counting how many guys are on the field.”
Undlin then repeated his promise of a week ago to not let it happen again.
“I know I said that last week,” he said. “I failed you guys at that. I failed the players at that. But ultimately it comes back to me. But that’s how it goes down. Coaches have to get their guys out there. We have to be on the same page. We have to make sure that we communicate to him on the sideline before the series starts so everybody knows. It’s bad coaching.”
Matt Prater doesn’t have the yips
Merriam-Webster defines yips as “a state of nervous tension affecting an athlete (such as a golfer) in the performance of a crucial action.”
And Lions special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs promises that kicker Matt Prater doesn’t have them.
Detroit Lions’ Brayden Coombs on Matt Prater’s recent struggles
Detroit Lions special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs explains Nov. 10, 2020 why he still has faith in kicker Matt Prater after his recent struggles.
“No, honestly,” Coombs said Tuesday. “I think I’ve been around obviously a bunch of different NFL players but a bunch of different NFL specialists. And I get it. That’s a real thing.
“But knowing Matt, the yips are really the furthest thing from my mind. It’s really just technique, focus. I do not have any concern with him getting the yips.”
Prater has been the model of consistency over his career, but he has been oddly off this season. He has converted just 70% of his attempts in 2020, down him his career rate of 83.1%. On Sunday in Minnesota, Prater missed a 46-yard attempt, which marked the third straight week he has failed from inside 50 yards.
Coombs said the miss was the same as the previous week’s miss from 48 yards against the Indianapolis Colts.
“It’s honestly almost an identical hit,” he said. “I think that’s probably the first thing he said to me when we talked about it. He hit it the same as the one last week. I’d say the frustrating thing with his misses over the last two weeks is a lot of times when guys are struggling at that position, it’s a trend or a mental issue or it’s the same reoccurring thing that’s happening in practice, warmups, games, and it’s trying to get over that hurdle. He’s honestly been kicking the ball as well as he has since I’ve been here over the last three or four weeks in practice and in pregame.
“So I think that gives me a little bit of confidence that it’s not some sort of significant issue that he’s going to struggle with as much as he’s just got to really focus in the moment, be present in the moment and go execute the same way that he is throughout the course of the week.”
Contact Carlos Monarrez at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.