The Detroit Lions‘ defense has struggled with injuries and inconsistent play through the first two of the year, and one outlet is suggesting the team find some veteran help in free agency.
The Lions lost edge rusher James Houston in their 37-31 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks on September 17, just days after defensive lineman Josh Paschal was hurt in practice and placed on injured reserve. Houston suffered a broken ankle that is expected to keep him out for between six and eight weeks.
Beyond the spate of injuries, the Lions have struggled to establish a pass rush and hold opponents on defense, surrendering 28.5 points per game through the first two weeks of the season.
Bleacher Report believes that some help could be on the way for the Lions in the form of veteran linebacker Anthony Barr.
Veteran Help for the Lions
In a report suggesting one free-agent addition for every NFL team, Bleacher Report noted that the Lions could target the veteran Barr to fill out one of the defense’s younger position groups.
“While Alex Anzalone is an established veteran, the Lions are otherwise young at linebacker. Second-year pro Malcolm Rodriguez and rookie Jack Campbell took a significant amount of snaps in the first two weeks,” the report noted.
“Both Rodriguez and Campbell struggled in the season opener as well, so Detroit would be wise to sign another vet for some help.”
The Pro Bowl linebacker played the first eight seasons of his career with the Minnesota Vikings before joining the Dallas Cowboys in 2022. Barr could be an affordable addition for the Lions — after he signed a five-year, $67.5 million contract with the Vikings in 2018, Barr took a $2 million deal to join the Cowboys.
The Bleacher Report article added that Barr could bring a measure of stability to a defense that has struggled to hold opponents through the early portion of the season.
“Barr would not only bring nine years of experience to the Motor City, but he’s also had 130 total tackles and six passes defended in his last 25 games,” the report noted. “He would stabilize the second level of Detroit’s defense and is the most complete player available at the position.”
Lions Face Urgency to Improve
Lions safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson said there is an urgent need for the Lions to improve on defense, noting that the team’s lofty expectations will come crashing down quickly if they don’t find a way to stop opponents.
“We know we’re not going to win a championship that way,” Gardner-Johnson said, via Detroit News reporter Nolan Bianchi on X. “That’s on us.”
Jeff Risdon of USA Today’s Lions Wire suggested that defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn shoulders a large share of the blame for the early defensive woes.
“Glenn hasn’t been aggressive or creative in attacking the quarterback,” Risdon wrote. “There have been a few blitzes, mostly from Brian Branch out of the slot, that have had some success even without finishing the sack. Most of the time, it’s Glenn asking his players to win their battles one-on-one, or two-on-one if it’s Hutchinson.”
Risdon added that Glenn’s difficulties on defense are even more stark in comparison to Detroit’s creative and high-tempo offense.
“It jumps off the game film when watching the frequently chaotic blocking scheme the Detroit offense deploys,” Risdon wrote. “There’s almost always some movement, or a trap block, or a pulling lineman, or a backside pickoff help built into the blocking scheme. Glenn’s defense doesn’t do anything like that. No stunts, no twists, no asynchronous rushes, no overloads. The limited ones they do try don’t seem well-coordinated or rehearsed. They’re certainly not effective.”