At this point in the season, I think it is safe to say that the Detroit Lions’ defense is not very good. In just about every statistical metric, the Lions find themselves at the very bottom, or at least within a few spots of being last.
With that said, what we witnessed during the Lions’ 31-27 at the hands of the Miami Dolphins was something different. Miami wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle seemed to be doing whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Third and long? No problem. Lions’ defensive backs were in no way challenging receivers at the line of scrimmage. In fact, of his 36 passing attempts against the Lions in Week 8, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa did not record a single attempt where a defender was within one yard of his intended receiver. Yes, you read that right. And this is where I think the fine line exists between respecting a team’s speed on the outside, and playing scared. The latter will nearly always lead to an easy day for an NFL quarterback.
To add insult to injury, the Dolphins had five receivers who averaged over three yards of separation. Why is that alarming? Well, that would be due to the fact that the league average is 2.92 yards. To an extent, I understand playing off of receivers like Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill. They are both among the fastest players in football, and are a constant threat to score anytime they touch the ball. But when it’s guys like Trent Sherfield, Braylon Sanders, and Mike Gesicki—well that is a different conversation.
This is wild: the average amount of separation in the NFL is 2.92 yards. The Dolphins had FIVE receivers average over three yards today; Tyreek *averaged* 3.72 yards of separation. Just unstoppable pic.twitter.com/uR7JxviuNk
— Ollie Connolly (@OllieConnolly) October 30, 2022
So while the dismissal of defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant may have seemed like the Lions were looking for a scapegoat to pin their defensive struggles on, with how things have deteriorated over the last several weeks in the secondary, something needed to change.
We won’t know whether the Lions made the right moves for quite a while. Yet with how historically porous this secondary has been through seven games, it’s easy to understand why the regime felt like a move needed to be made.
And now, onto the rest of today’s notes:
- Jeff Okudah talked to ESPN about the firing of Pleasant:
#Lions CB Jeff Okudah to ESPN on Aubrey Pleasant: “His impact on my career has been invaluable. Things he was able to teach me about the game, the Xs and Os. He really slowed the game down for me.”
— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) November 2, 2022
- The Lions shared some pictures from their homecoming weekend against the Dolphins. Because pictures of the greatest running back to ever live will always bring a smile to my face.