Lions’ Top Roster Weakness Revealed Right Now: ‘In Need of Work’

Amani Oruwariye

Getty Amani Oruwariye misses a tackle for the Lions in 2022.

The Detroit Lions have struggled in a big way this season, and perhaps the biggest frustration for the team has been their leaky defense.

Minus their two big wins, the Lions defense has more often than not played a role in the team’s overall demise than served as an asset for them. In looking at where the team places midseason, it’s not hard to see where the problems lie.

Pro Football Focus and writer Brad Spielberger took a look at breaking down and ranking each team’s roster at the midway point. Unsurprisingly, the Lions placed low at 31st overall, and perhaps one of the biggest reasons why ended up being their biggest weakness.

Spielberger looked at naming the biggest weakness for teams, and the Lions had an unsurprising spot. Cornerback was seen as the biggest weakness, and given the struggle the Lions have endured, that isn’t a surprise whatsoever.

As Speilberger wrote, things haven’t been nearly good enough in the second level for the Lions this year, which is the very bad news for the team.

“2020 first-round cornerback Jeff Okudah has shown some flashes of the talent that made him the third overall pick, but outside of him, the cornerback position is a giant question mark. Lions cornerbacks have earned a 46.4 grade, which ranks 31st, with the defense’s .203 expected points added per dropback allowed also the second-worst mark in the league. The lack of a pass rush is a factor here as well, but recent investments up front should create more optimism than a secondary in need of a lot of work,” he wrote.

In terms of the future, the defense is going to be a spot where the Lions have to spend some vital resources, and perhaps specifically, the defensive backfield.

This year, having this spot be such a glaring hole has been almost too much for the Lions to bear. In the future, though, there is hope for a resolution to the situation.

Lions Cornerback Room Needs Offseason Upgrade

This season, it’s been an ugly struggle for the Lions, especially in the defensive backfield. Injury and inconsistency has taken foot, and has dragged down the entire group as a whole.

The Lions were likely expecting Amani Oruwariye to have an elite season, but he fell off the map. The hope was they could get a bounce-back season out of a resurgent Jeff Okudah, and so far, that’s been the case. Arguably, Okudah has been the team’s top MVP for his work this season so far.

Beyond that, the team had some depth in Mike Hughes, Bobby Price and Chase Lucas, but none of those players has been consistent enough this season. Hughes may have played one of his best games in Week 9, but Lucas has been dinged up.

Jerry Jacobs has come back and lent himself to some depth and playmaking midseason, and AJ Parker has returned, but has played far more inconsistently than he did during the 2021 season. It was long hoped that the Lions could get solid enough play from their starters, but injuries were a reality again, and when inconsistency also managed to strike, the was quickly in trouble.

Indeed, the team’s been in a bit of trouble in the backfield, and as a result, it’s the one spot they need to address in a big way come the 2023 offseason, likely with multiple free agent pickups and draft selections.

Lions Already Made Move Firing Aubrey Pleasant

Detroit’s secondary performed so badly this year that the team has elected to move on from their first coach Aubrey Pleasant. Ironically, Pleasant coached defensive backs for the team and was seen as a potential rising star in the coaching ranks.

That’s on hold now, and Brian Duker has taken over the role as defensive back coach. In Week 9, Duker’s crew came up with a big performance that showed that perhaps their demise has been exaggerated and the team has some solid prospects in the second level.

The Lions have some rebuilding to do in the future, and it could start in the secondary and specifically at cornerback. Without help there, the team could be staring at an uphill battle toward improving defensively.

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