The Detroit Lions have struggled this season on defense, but all of a sudden, they’re making a single glaring mistake feel pretty commonplace.
During the team’s ugly 34-20 Week 9 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings, the Lions once again made one of the worst kind of errors a team can make when they had 10 players on the field on defense. Here’s a look at the visual evidence of the play.
Guys, you're not going to believe this, but on Cook's 70-yard TD, Lions had 10 men on the field. pic.twitter.com/bEG5m5QSFq
— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) November 8, 2020
On the play, the Vikings blasted through for an easy looking 70 yard touchdown, aided greatly because the Lions didn’t have enough players on the field to slow them down. The worst news about this mistake for Matt Patricia and the Lions is the fact that it also happened in Week 8 a pair of times.
There’s no excuse for Patricia and Cory Undlin not to have the right players in the game in key moments or have this kind of confusion midway through a season no matter what changes have come in 2020. It’s a sloppy look and something which could eventually cost Patricia his job moving forward considering the way the mistakes have been playing out.
Lions 10 Men Problem Has Happened Before
Such a mistake is embarrassing enough 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 last week and his feelings on it and offered a blunt assessment regarding why it happened.
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.
Given what happened this week, it’s an even tougher look that the Lions have made this mistake 3 times in as many weeks. It doesn’t point to good coaching or a team that is executing whatsoever. It does point to a very sloppy coaching staff and team.
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. They continue to give up points and look underprepared, which is bad news for defensive coordinator Cory Undlin.
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. Sadly for them, it keeps on happening and it appears to have happened again during an ugly Week 9 defeat.
That doesn’t lend to much optimism that it won’t happen again.