Campbell 'aware' of Lions' predictable defense, with changes coming


Midway through last season, Dan Campbell stripped Anthony Lynn of play-calling duties and jolted the Lions offense to life. He isn't considering a similar move with defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, whose unit ranks last in the NFL four games into this season.

"I had a ton of respect for A-Lynn and I made a tough decision," Campbell said Monday of the Lions' former offensive coordinator. "I’ve had to do this before and I’m not afraid to make a hard decision if I really believed that was the cause of it, and I don’t believe it is. I believe that Aaron Glenn is the right man for the job. He gives us our best hope and best option to run this defense."

The Lions hit rock-bottom -- they hope -- Sunday against the Seahawks. Their defense was ripped apart by one of the worst offenses in the NFL in a 48-45 loss. Afterward, running back Rashaad Penny, who steamrolled Detroit for the second year in a row, said the Seahawks knew what defense the Lions were going to call before his two biggest plays of the game: a 36-yard touchdown run on third-and-16 in the third quarter and a 41-yard touchdown run on third-and-five in the fourth quarter.

The Lions sent pressure on QB Geno Smith on both plays, and Penny, who said we "take advantage of the bad looks the defense shows us," ran right past them like he never had the ball.

"That’s just what they do on defense," Penny said. "That was the game plan for us. Been watching that on film, that on third and long, they’re going to play that, so just anticipated it."

That sure sounds like a problem for Detroit. Asked Monday if he's worried Glenn's defense is becoming too predictable, Campbell said, "No, but it's something to be aware of because they got us twice."

"They schemed us up and they got us. Penny is absolutely right, they got us. But that’s the first time we’ve been exposed in those two fronts on third and long and third and medium. So now, alright, they got us, it’s on tape and it’s certainly something to be aware of," he said.

After dissecting Sunday's film, Campbell said Detroit's defensive issues are the result of "a snowball effect:" one player being out of position leads to every player being out of position. And that leads to a lack of trust, which leads to more players being out of position. Around and around it goes.

"We’re in this vicious cycle right now," he said. "So we gotta pull things way, way back and just get our confidence back and gain some trust among teammates. That comes with scheme, that comes with personnel and we’re going to work through it."

Campbell said he and Glenn will consider moving "some personnel around" and "changing things schematically." One player who falls in the personnel bucket is second overall pick Aidan Hutchinson, who's been quiet through four games outside of one half against the Commanders in Detroit's only win of the season.

"He’s one of those players we need to look long and hard about," Campbell said. "Do we need to move him in some different spots? Do we need to see if we can give him an opportunity to have more success? But look, he did a lot of good things in the run game yesterday and I think he’s kind of where our defense is right now: we just gotta improve."

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