Detroit Lions DC Aaron Glenn: Final drive vs. Chicago Bears ‘a black eye’ for defense

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions allowed fewer points in November than every team but the New England Patriots, but first-year Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said the final drive in last week’s loss to the Chicago Bears was “a black eye” for his otherwise improving unit.

The Lions lost, 16-14, on a 28-yard field goal as time expired, when the Bears ran the final 8 minutes, 30 seconds off the clock with an 18-play drive.

Chicago converted two third downs on the possession, and the Lions deliberately took a 5-yard penalty late in the drive when a defensive miscommunication forced them to use back-to-back timeouts.

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“There were like three plays we could have got off the field,” Glenn said Thursday. “We had the quarterback sacked, we had a chance to get the ball. If we can make those plays, and that comes from just youth and experience and understanding, how do you finish? That’s always been something that we’ve talked about is how do you finish? And I think the best teams in this league, they understand how to finish. It’s going to take us time.”

Though Julian Okwara missed a drive-ending sack early in the possession and Will Harris gave up the completion that allowed the Bears to take three knees before their field goal try, Glenn was most critical of his own coaching on the drive.

On third-and-4 after the 5-yard penalty for defensive delay of game, Glenn rushed five defenders at Bears quarterback Andy Dalton, but the Lions played off coverage in their secondary.

Dalton completed an easy pass to Damiere Byrd in front of safety Will Harris, who was playing slot cornerback in place of the injured A.J. Parker.

Cornerback Jerry Jacobs also was far off his receiver in coverage on the play.

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“I wish I would have told Will Harris to challenge that situation,” Glenn said. “I should have told him that, but we called a pressure and he was just playing off. Again, that’s just his second time playing nickel the whole game, so sometimes we put so much blame on players and man, listen, that guy’s just now learning. So I told him, I said, ‘That wasn’t your fault, man. That’s my fault, because I put you in that situation as a new player playing that position.’ So I got to make sure I help that player as far as how to operate in those situations.”

Harris is one of the most experienced members of the Lions’ young secondary, but Glenn said he should not be faulted for a lack of situational awareness given his newness at the slot cornerback position.

“It’s up to us to teach,” Glenn said. “And I get it. I get it, but still. To me, every player’s failure is my failure, and that’s just, I’m just built like that. Every player’s failure, because I have to teach that in that situation. And I will say this: Will won’t make that mistake again. Because I’m going to make sure that I teach as far as that situation’s concerned.”

Harris is in line to play slot cornerback again Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, though the Lions activated rookie cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu off injured reserve Tuesday.

Melifonwu, a third-round pick out of Syracuse, worked some in nickel packages in the preseason. Glenn said he sees the rookie as a matchup piece in his secondary, with Jerry Jacobs still starting opposite Amani Oruwariye at outside cornerback.

“Iffy’s played nickel for us, he’s played outside corner for us, he’s played dime for us, so there’s some versatility there,” Glenn said. “So we’re going to use that player as a matchup piece. Can’t say exactly where we’re going to use him at, but we’re going to use him. And that’s the luxury of having a player like that.”

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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