The Detroit Lions didn’t do a whole lot right in a frustrating 41-21 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, and a big moment that captured the frustration of the game came when Detroit had 10 men on the field on defense.
Such a mistake is embarrassing enough in the moment once, but when it plays such a visceral role twice in a tough loss, it can be even more frustrating and magnified. Defensive coordinator Cory Undlin was asked about the plays and his feelings on it and offered a blunt assessment on Tuesday.
It was simply a case of bad coaching on his part and nothing else.
Asked Cory Undlin about the two times they had 10 men on defense against Indianapolis.
"Bad coaching, that's what that is."
— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) November 3, 2020
For a team to have problems with substitutions and personnel it often speaks to confusion on the sideline and with regards to what packages and plays are being run. Given the offseason NFL teams just had, a degree of this was to be expected, but for it to be playing out in Week 8 during an important game is a tough look for the Lions.
Fortunately, there were no excuses to be made or complaints to be had from Undlin or anyone else. That level of accountability is nice to see out of a staff and should be commended.
Obviously, the hope and expectation is the Lions can get that corrected and right for the next time so they don’t have such a disadvantage on the field.
Lions Defense Statistics
This season, Detroit’s defense has been plagued with inconsistency. Their pass rush has struggled, and the team has been up and down on the back end while battling injuries. Detroit also hasn’t forced enough turnovers and is generally unable to get off the field against good teams and good offenses. As a whole, the Lions place 22nd in the NFL in total defense through Week 8 this season. While that’s not a disaster for the team given where they’ve been in the past, it’s also a sign that the team has to step it up if they want to make a run to the playoffs midway through the season.
The Lions will have to count on Undlin correcting mistakes just like this if they want a chance at climbing back the rest of the 2020 season.
Corey Undlin Biography
So far, Undlin is starting to find his way as a coordinator in the league so some growing pains were expected. Undlin broke into the league in 2004 with the New England Patriots as a coaching assistant, which is likely how he got to know Matt Patricia and the other members of the staff. He joined the Cleveland Browns as an assistant coach from 2005-2008, coaching in a few roles there including assistant special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach.
From there, Undlin spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2009-2011 as a defensive assistant and a defensive backs coach. He moved on to the Denver Broncos as a defensive quality control coach and defensive backs coach until 2014. After that, he joined the Philadelphia Eagles as defensive backs coach, a post he held through the end of 2019.
Undlin’s only coordinating experience came at little-known California Lutheran in 2000-2001 just before he made the jump to Fresno State as a graduate assistant.
Now that he has taken over the Lions, Undlin is learning fast on the job and though he made a big time mistake, he should at least get some credit for admitting it during a self evaluation.