The Detroit Lions led the Green bay Packers 17-14 at halftime on Monday, but despite the lead it almost felt inevitable on every drive that the Packers were going to score. This was proven by the 21-0 second half run by Green Bay to close out the game led by Aaron Jones 4 touchdown performance.
As is often the case when a running back explodes like Jones did, suspect linebacker play was one of the main culprits. Poor coverage was especially a problem leading to two easy receiving touchdowns to the Packers’ running backs along with another to tight end Robert Tonyan. Linebackers Alex Anzalone and Jamie Collins played a majority of the snaps and both struggled keeping up with Jones and Tonyan.
I would expect to see a change at linebacker in the coming weeks. The real question is who will be the first to see snaps decrease. After a report by Ian Rapoport, it looks like we may have our answer in a Jamie Collins trade. It is not clear who they will trade for or when it will happen, but it appears Derrick Barnes may see more playing time earlier than expected.
Despite recording 14 total tackles through the first two games, Anzalone is currently one of the lowest ranked linebackers in the NFL per PFF. Despite this, Dan Campbell seems to like Anzalone’s effort compared to Jamie Collins, which may be the reason for the Lions exploring trades for Collins. Many fans will be excited at the idea of more playing time for Derrick Barnes.
Barnes was a bright spot in the preseason. He recorded 10 tackles and a sack through three games and was a disrupter throughout. The 4th round pick was one of the highest graded rookies throughout preseason and it would be exciting to see what he can do in the regular season.
Barnes saw zero defensive snaps Monday night leading to believe he will not just be thrown in as the starter this week, but slowly eased into the scheme. I would not be surprised if we see more of Jalen Reeves-Maybin at linebacker as well. This can give Barnes time to truly get used to the speed of regular season football. I would expect to see him get some called blitzes and more basic coverages to help ease him in.
Despite some of the injuries at corner, poor linebacker play was one of the main things that stood out in a lackluster defensive effort Monday night. Derrick Barnes’ versatility and effort level could be key to slowing down a potent Ravens rushing attack. Hopefully we continue to see more of Barnes as the season goes on and he can develop into a solidified starter as he gains experience.