Can the Detroit Lions roundtable Aaron Glenn save the NFL defense?
1.) What do you take away most from the Lions pre-season opener?
Vito Chirco: The offense looked good in its first series, with starting signalman Jared Goff in the lead. But, the defense, as a whole, was still nowhere near good enough. He certainly needs polishing up, and hopefully Aaron Glenn’s unit takes shape as the 2022 campaign progresses.
Jean Maakaron: The biggest takeaway for me was that the defense will have to be the unit that will improve the most over the next two seasons. It’s safe to say the team still needs more inside defensive linemen, cornerbacks and linebackers. It was a little daunting for the defense to allow the Falcons to just run up the field, after the offense kicked off the game with a nice touchdown. While it is still early days, the defensive play was not enough to calm the nerves of the supporters.
2. How concerned are you about Detroit’s defense?
Chiro: I am very worried. Of course, it was only the first pre-season game. But, think about it from this perspective: Glenn’s defense allowed 27.5 points per game a season ago, and realistically, aside from adding Aidan Hutchinson, not much has been done. to improve unity. Linebackers, just like last year, are an important weak link, and the cornerbacks behind Amani Oruwariye could also be in store for trouble throughout the season. Also, I haven’t seen enough of Friday to get excited about the defensive side of the ball.
Maakaron: I don’t think Aaron Glenn can work miracles. The addition of Aidan Hutchinson will improve overall defensive line play, but the lack of size and high-end talent on defense will ultimately cost this team dearly. It’s clear that linebackers have a hard time maintaining gap responsibilities and chasing running backs, making them easily susceptible to getting burned by sneaky backs and moving quarterbacks. The hope must be that the attack is good enough to carry this football team.
3.) Should the Lions have signed QB Desmond Ridder from the Falcons?
Chiro: I’m not going to say that after a pre-season game. Now Ridder has shown some signs of being able to start in the league one day, most notably via his ability to play with his legs. But I’d like to give Lions players drafted before and after Ridder — EDGE Josh Paschal (second round) and safety Kerby Joseph (third round) — a chance to prove their worth before making such a profound statement.
Maakaron: I liked Ridder’s athleticism and thought he performed well in his first game. The ability to evade defenders and play with your feet is now coveted by many teams when front offices evaluate quarterbacks.
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Detroit doesn’t have a mobile quarterback and so is likely to give up sacks. I wouldn’t mind drafting Ridder rather than Josh Paschal.
4.) Which Lions player impressed you the most?
Chiro: Aidan Hutchison. He looked as good as advertised on Friday night, exerting his energetic nature along the Lions defensive line. He was a threat in the Atlanta Falcons’ backfield, wrapping up running back Qadree Ollison on the Falcons’ first practice of the game. For Lions sake, I hope this is a sign of things to come from the Michigan product.
Maakaron: While many were impressed with Aidan Hutchinson, I was quite impressed with Tom Kennedy’s acting. He is not announced, but he is a reliable target when given the opportunity to play.
“I would just say I’m not surprised. It’s Tom Kennedy. He’s just reliable, that’s all he’s just reliable. He’s just very reliable, that’s all he is” , Dan Campbell said after the game on Friday.
5.) Was the focus on the coaching staff unusual for the first episode of “Hard Knocks”?
Chiro: I’ll say no, because of the cast of characters Detroit has on its coaching staff, led by Lions head coach Dan Campbell. Campbell is a fiery individual, with unique mannerisms. It is prone to offering interesting sound clips which also go viral. So, I expect his profiling to remain a constant throughout this season of Hard Knocks.
Additionally, the show focuses on turning players and coaches into stars that people tune in to. So it was no surprise to see some chatter between Lions running backs coach Duce Staley and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. It was a heated exchange, and it’s an aspect of boot camp that has become a hallmark of Hard Knocks over the years and made it such a popular HBO program.
Maakaron: Focusing on the relationship between Aaron Glenn and Duce Staley was certainly quite fun. But, I think locally we all know the experience of the coaching staff.
Part of the reason I love Hard Knocks is the player stories. I think it’s clear that outside of Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit doesn’t have as many top players that the country would like. But, I’m still looking forward to hearing more about the struggles of a few roster members in their quest to make an NFL team.