As GM Bob Quinn said they would way back at the NFL combine in February, the Lions have leaned heavily on their nickel and dime looks this season. Part of that is just a reaction to an ongoing league-wide preference to spread the field; the other part is that they don’t really have any linebackers.
Last week’s trade of draft bust Kyle Van Noy (2014, Round 2) led Detroit to re-sign another LB, Josh Bynes, whom they waived with an injury settlement in September. He and rookie Antwione Williams with team up alongside Tahir Whitehead as the corps, until DeAndre Levy is healthy* (*should that day ever come). And without Levy, that group has issues, especially in coverage. Tight ends have a league-high seven TDs against the Lions this season. The pass defense as a whole is enough of an issue that it threatens to sink Detroit’s playoff hopes. If teams are able to continue exploiting the middle of the field, too, the defense will be in trouble.