Lions’ Jeff Okudah played ‘best game since he’s been here’ vs. Cowboys

Detroit News

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions’ 24-6 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday was one of their worst of the year. Based on points allowed, however, it was their best defensive performance of the year — and one player stood out among the rest.

“That was Jeff Okudah’s best game since he’s been here, in my opinion,” Lions head coach Dan Campbell said Monday.

Okudah, a third-year corner and former No. 3 overall pick, had a career-high 15 tackles and graded out as the No. 4 cornerback in the NFL on Sunday with an overall rating of 86.1, according to Pro Football Focus. It was a standout game with a standout role, as Okudah lined up in the box for 18 snaps, ranking first among all corners in the NFL with a rush defense grade of 90.1 and a tackling grade of 84.1.

Campbell said he could tell Okudah was due for a game like this because of the weeks of practice he’d strung together.

“Just in regards to what we asked him to do, and you could tell he was locked in last week, and there was just — there was a look to him,” Campbell said. “He said coming out of the bye, he acknowledged things he wanted to work on and he took that to (Lions defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant) and he just — you could see it and he was locked in.

“And when you tackle like that as a corner and then you see him challenge on the perimeter outside, man, that’s what you’re looking for, and so I expect him to continue to trend that way.”

According to Campbell, Okudah’s role in the run game is part of the defense’s new look.

“That’s a little bit more of what we’re doing now,” Campbell said. “We’re going to set edges and funnel everything inside to our ‘backers; our two big guys and now, anything pops through there. If it gets out to that perimeter between the edge setter and your linebacker, now you put them in a phone booth for your corner.

“You’re going to have to tackle on the perimeter where you’ve got all that space. And we just felt like it was going to help everybody and it did.”

Goff day

It’s been two straight games of misery for the Lions’ offense. In their last 120 minutes of football, they’ve scored just six points, and in Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys, turned the ball over five times — four times off the hands of quarterback Jared Goff — en route to a second straight humiliating defeat.

“Well, I think there’s a number of things to that,” Campbell said. “Certainly, the injury at the receiver position has done a little bit to that. I think not having (running back D’Andre Swift) has hurt a little bit, because you lose a little bit of explosiveness in the run game. And then, it took us a minute to figure out our O-line, just with — (offensive tackle Dan Skipper) came in for a game, then we got (center) Evan Brown. And I think there’s just a combination of things that have maybe been a little unsettled, unsettling.”

On top of the players who’ve been absent from the Lions lineup as of late, some of the ones who have been ready to go — like wide receiver Josh Reynolds, for example — have had to choose between missing games or missing practice, which Campbell said is hurting their fitness.

“And on top of that, there’s a number of these guys that we’re going into games with that aren’t even practicing because that’s kind of where we’re at,” Campbell said. “It’s — we have to have them to play the game, and to do that, we can’t practice them to feel like we can get them to the game, and that’s hard. But that’s the task we’re given right now.”

Twitter: @nolanbianchi

nbianchi@detroitnews.com

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