Defensively, the Detroit Lions have left a lot to be desired at times this year, and while folks might be inclined to point fingers at different position groups, it’s become clear that the struggles have been a collective effort for the team.
At this point, even the players realize that fact to be the case, and a big point of emphasis with the coaching staff has been communication. Some breakdowns have cost the Lions dearly in games, and it is becoming paramount that the Lions find a way to get on the same page with each other defensively.
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Speaking with the media, safety Dean Marlowe was asked about his young teammate Bobby Price and provided some great insight as it relates to why so many communication errors could be plaguing the secondary. As Marlowe explained in an interview posted to DetroitLions.com, even though Price is a great player, often times, young players in his position without experience fall back on just playing the game instead of being able to process and understand all the finer details.
“Bobby’s a hell of a player. He’s a hell of an athlete. He’s always striving to get better everyday, he’s always asking questions, what he can do to improve, what can he see better, what can he learn from the opponent’s personnel. He’s constantly a sponge and he constantly wants to go inside the room of improvement,” Marlowe said. “I think, sometimes when you’re a young guy and the lights are on and you’re out there playing, sometimes all you can result to is plying football. Sometimes in the NFL, it’s more than that. Guys gotta be on the same page.”
Thus far, the Lions have more often than not struggled being on the same page. As Marlowe was quick to point out, it isn’t just Price’s fault or anyone else specifically, but rather the group as a whole that has to find a way to collectively come together.
“It’s not necessarily one guy, we all gotta be better as a defense, as a secondary. If we can sustain that constant room of improvement, we kind of want to get better everyday, every aspect in every game. So, he’s having a rough time, but knowing who he is as a person, he’s going to shake back, bounce back and he’s a competitor. So he’s not going to let one play, three plays, five plays define who he is,” he said.
While Price has played a lot, the Lions have had multiple young players rotating in and out who lack experience, so until those players learn, growing pains are likely to come up on the field. The more experience the players get, hopefully, the better they will become at communicating and cleaning up some of the mistakes.
Lions Defensive Backfield Facing Major Depth Crisis
In the first two weeks of the season, the Lions have lost top cornerback Jeff Okudah as well as Ifeatu Melifonwu to injury. During Week 2, the Lions had to debate about how to deal with the loss of Okudah, and settled on giving Melifonwu a bigger role while also signing a couple young free agents with upside in Corey Ballentine and Darryl Worley. Then, Melifonwu was lost to his own injury. Ballentine and Worley have seen time at other spots, while names like Price, A.J. Price and Jerry Jacobs have seen game action consistently.
At this point in time, Amani Oruwariye is one of the last healthy starters at the cornerback spot, just going to prove how badly the injury bug has bitten the position early this season. That’s complicated matters for the Detroit defense in a big way, and to that end, it’s understandable how the team could have communication issues with so many young and inexperienced players in the mix.
Marlowe’s Stats and Highlights
If there would be anyone who would understand the path these youngsters are trying to take to the NFL, it would be Marlowe. An undrafted free agent out of James Madison, Marlowe cracked the Carolina Panthers’ roster in 2015, and stayed there until he signed with the Bills in 2017. From 2017 to 2020, Marlowe played a key role for the Bills in terms of being a glue guy on special teams. He’s also produced a bit when given a shot. In his career, Marlowe has just 38 tackles and 2 interceptions to go with 1 fumble recovery, 1.5 sacks and 5 passes defended, but the majority of his production came late in 2020 when he was allowed a bigger chance to play on the defense. With the Lions, Marlowe has been in and out of games lately an has seen time on a more consistent basis himself in 2021.
Marlowe can be an instinctive playmaker who can certainly get after it on the field and be in the right place at the right time as this clip reveals.
Having Marlowe be a veteran leader that can perhaps help explain what needs to happen could be huge for the development of Price and Detroit’s other young defensive backs.