In search of fixes for his league-worst defense, Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn called rookie pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson over the team’s Week 6 bye to talk about Hutchinson’s role and what the Lions could do to get more out of their No. 2 overall pick.
Hutchinson, trying to be a good rookie, did not have too many suggestions for his coach, but he did indicate he saw himself having more success rushing out of a two-point stance than the three-point one the Lions used him in most of the season’s first five weeks.
“As a coach, the one thing you have to do is, man, listen to the player and that’s something that I try to pride myself in, in doing that,” Glenn said Thursday. “And Aidan would never just say what he wants to do, but he would say, ‘Coach, I think I can be a pretty successful doing these things.’ And I’m like, ‘Man, listen, I get it. I’ve been there before. Let’s have these conversations, let’s figure out what we can do to help.'”
The Lions used Hutchinson primarily as a stand-up rusher in obvious pass down situations in last week’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and split him out wider as a defensive end to give him more outside contain responsibilities against the run.
Hutchinson responded with two sacks, his first sacks since a three-sack game in a Week 2 win over the Washington Commanders, and his deployment as an edge run defender helped free cornerback Jeff Okudah up to make a career-high 15 tackles.
“I think it really matches my style of game and I feel like it really does open me up,” Hutchinson said. “And yeah, obviously having more of that freedom I feel like I can take advantage of it and make the most of it. Yeah, I was feeling really good out there.”
Hutchinson had most of his success at Michigan football as a stand-up rusher, which he said he is more comfortable playing because it allows him to better see plays develop.
“All the film you watch all week, you’re staring at the wide view but once you get on the field and your hand’s in the dirt, you lose all that and you lose all the information that you were kind of obtaining all week,” Hutchinson said. “And with me I’m a very instinctual player and being able to use that gives me kind of another — it puts me on another level, I feel, just because I’m able to access one more thing in my toolbox.”
Glenn said he is continuously evolving the Lions defense to fit his players’ talents, and with Hutchinson, the team is committed to getting the most out of him as a pass rusher.
“Sometimes guys just, they feel it. And when they feel it, man, go make the play,” Glenn said. “That’s who he is. We’re giving him that freedom to do that, and that showed up. One of the rushes that he had, he made the spin move when he should have been containing, but he spun, actually made sure he got outside and still made a play on the quarterback, and he did it again against the run. So he knows what his job is, but he just has to make sure that when you go make these plays, you better finish them cause I’m going to be pissed when you don’t.”
Pop a shot
Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson defended his team’s decision to run out the final 1 minute, 45 seconds of the first half in last week’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Lions, leading 6-3 at the time, started the possession at their own 3-yard line and picked up a first down on the drive’s first play, a 13-yard run by Jamaal Williams. Williams gained 10 yards on carries the next two plays, and the Lions went to the locker room without using a timeout.
They failed to score a point the rest of the game.
“I believe that drive started on the minus-(3),” Johnson said. “I think that had something to do with it just where we were. I don’t want to speak for Coach (Dan Campbell), but there’s a time that momentum plays a factor as well. We hadn’t exactly moved the ball up and down the field that game.”
Johnson said the Lions would have tried to finish the half off with points if Williams “would have popped one of those runs.”
“And we came very close,” he said. “We came very close to do that. They were in pass rush mode. I mean, heck, I think they had 90, their defensive end (DeMarcus Lawrence), in as a three technique, so we were trying to take advantage of that while still being smart and not allowing them to get the ball back. But we were ready to flip over to aggressive mode if the situation presented itself.”
Six Lions missed practice Thursday, including defensive starters DeShon Elliott (finger) and Charles Harris (groin). Tight end T.J. Hockenson (knee), receiver Josh Reynolds (knee) and guard Jonah Jackson (neck) returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday, and running back D’Andre Swift (shoulder/ankle) was a full participant for the second straihgt day and is trending towards playing Sunday against the Dolphins. Mike Hughes (knee), Chase Lucas (ankle), Ifeatu Melifonwu (ankle) and Matt Nelson (calf) also did not practice Thursday.
The Lions also waived undrafted rookie defensive end Demetrius Taylor.