Don’t blame coordinator Aaron Glenn for the Lions’ lousy defense.
The main culprit is general manager Brad Holmes, and those advising him in the front office.
While Holmes has hit home runs with offensive stars such as Penei Sewell and Amon-Ra St. Brown in the NFL Draft, his track record, albeit too short for full judgement, has not been nearly as promising on defense.
As the Lions’ defense was torched for 48 points Sunday, neither of Holmes’ initial second-round selections, defensive linemen Levi Onwuzurike and Josh Paschal, played.
Paschal has never worn pads for the Lions, even in training camp. He has been out with a hernia injury that reportedly occurred in college at Kentucky. Onwuzurike had minimal impact last season and has been out in 2022 because of a back ailment.
The Lions received three draft selections in the Matthew Stafford trade, two first-rounders and a third-rounder, the latter in 2021, which they turned into Ifeatu Melifonwu, a corner who has been converted to safety. He had 15 tackles last season, none this year. His passer rating against: 132.6. His average yards per reception against: 16.7. Kerby Joseph, the third-round ‘22 pick from Illinois, played in place of injured Tracy Walker Sunday and had his share of struggles.
Derrick Barnes, James Houston and Chase Lucas haven’t exactly flashed potential. Aidan Hutchinson and Alim McNeill have clear upside, but their performance has fallen below expectations. It seems, though, they have been overwhelmed by the lack of talent around them.
All this has negated, at least so far, the impact of Holmes’ only defensive hit to this point, sixth-round linebacker Malcom Rodriguez.
Holmes has also failed to cobble together veteran defensive talent. Chris Board and Michael Brockers were both exploited at the point of attack on key runs by Seattle’s Rashaad Penny. Charles Harris was really good last season, not so much this one.
Time will tell how trading up for wide receiver Jameson Williams will pan out, but it sure hasn’t helped this season. The Lions sure could use more high-end talent on defense than offense.
Currently, the Lions are no different than during most of the Matthew Stafford era. His replacement, Jared Goff, is racking up big traditional passing stats, while being the victim of untimely pick-six interceptions. The defense still stinks and the Lions are still losing.
I have defended Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell often because I am fully aware of the utter mess they inherited. I have said all along the hype surrounding the 2022 Lions is unrealistic. Incremental improvement is a more pertinent goal.
But that doesn’t excuse the Lions lacking player personnel to this degree on defense.
Brad Holmes has given Aaron Glenn a bucket of dishwater instead of a bushel of grapes. To expect Glenn to nonetheless make wine isn’t reasonable.