The Detroit Lions took a step in the right direction last season in their effort to becoming a serious competitor, ending the 2022 season winning eight of their last 10 games.
But if they want to take it to the next level, like a playoff contender, there are still some areas in need of revitalization — one being the secondary.
The defense ranked dead last in the NFL last season, surrendering an average of 392.4 yards per game. The offense, on the other hand, finished fourth in the NFL, averaging 380 yards per game.
The team recognized the need to balance the scales on both sides of the ball early on, and acquired three new defensive backs, Cam Sutton, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Emmanuel Moseley to bring veteran experience to the group, as well as depth.
“These guys that we’ve added, the production is there,” head coach Dan Campbell said. “But one of the biggest reasons the production is there is because these guys are smart, instinctive and very aware players.”
The new additions have defensive players outside of the secondary excited as well. Aidan Hutchinson, who led the team in sacks in his rookie campaign, was happy to hear that the team has an emphasis on defense this offseason.
“It looks like the boys are trying to load up on defense, so it gets me fired up because you know Brad (Holmes) and Dan (Campbell), what those guys are doing,” Hutchinson said. “They’re trying to make the push for right now.”
Linebacker Alex Anzalone agreed that the front office did a “great job” with the free-agent acquisitions, especially in the back end of the defense, which will help the defense as a whole.
Another positive for the secondary is the return of Tracy Walker from an Achilles injury. While there’s no official word yet on when he will be back on the field in full force, Walker, who suffered the Achilles tear in September, takes pride in the work he’s done to get back as quickly as he has.
Walker also takes pride in his leadership role within the secondary and the mentor position he has taken on with Kerby Joseph, who led the team in interceptions last season and could play a vital role this year.
“That’s my little brother,” Walker said. “From the time he walked in till now I took him under my wing, and we always hang out. He’s always at my house and vice versa.”
As seen with Walker and Joseph, team chemistry is important when building a group. That’s why defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn is happy with the way things have gone on his side of the ball thus far. He credits the personnel department for its ability to target the weak spots, in this case the secondary, and make the changes needed to improve.
“The pieces that they brought in are pieces that really fit who we are as a team first and foremost,” Glenn said. “Everybody, every piece they brought in fits us to a tee and that’s probably more important than anything.”