Publish date:

Inside Allen Park: Detroit Lions' Defense 'Better Scheme for Everybody'

Detroit Lions' defense has given the offense all it can handle the first four days of training camp.

The Detroit Lions simply cannot play worse on defense than they did in 2020. 

Former head coach Matt Patricia's defense gave up a total of 35 points or more on six occasions in 2020, while also surrendering 6,716 yards and 519 total points. 

With a new coaching staff in place, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn must find avenues to instill more confidence in and gain more productivity out of cornerback Jeff Okudah and safety Tracy Walker. 

For Walker, he is starting to emerge as a vocal leader in the secondary, and on Friday, the 26-year-old safety shared what many supporters were hoping to hear -- the Lions have a better scheme defensively.

“Definitely better, definitely. It’s a better scheme for everybody, to be honest with you,” Walker said on Friday. “I ain’t throwing no shade, it’s just it is what it is. But, yeah, I feel like we’re all great, and we’re all happy right now. That’s the biggest thing right now.”

“To have a safety that is very vocal -- I’ll tell you what, Tracy (Walker) is as smart as a whip. ... He’s been outstanding and I’ll tell you what, Will Harris is doing well," head coach Dan Campbell explained on Saturday. "I know it’s early, but we’ve been impressed. He’s really coming along and picking up this defense. You can just see the secondary beginning to grow, you can. They’re starting to figure this thing out. They’re starting to mesh.”

okudah5

On Saturday, the defense shined, and took advantage of several mistakes made by the offense. 

Jeff Okudah is right mentally

For Detroit's second-year cornerback, getting offseason surgery was about getting physically healthy. 

But, Okudah expressed this week that getting right mentally felt more important to him, as he was preparing to head into his sophomore campaign. 

Recommended Lions Articles

adams5

Roundtable: Will Refs Botch Calls against Lions in Week 2?

The latest SI All Lions Roundtable focuses on the chances of a botched call in the Detroit Lions' Week 2 tilt with the Green Bay Packers.

melifonwu5

Bold Prediction: Ifeatu Melifonwu Has Interception and Pick-Six on MNF

Can rookie Ifeatu Melifonwu shine, stepping in at cornerback following Jeff Okudah's season-ending injury?

campbell5

How Detroit Lions Can Become 'Gold Standard' in NFC North

Can head coach Dan Campbell lead the Detroit Lions to become contenders to win the NFC North annually?

"Honestly, it was more important to get mentally right than to get physically right. Over the course of this offseason, just started reading up on stoic philosophy, kind of getting a sense of stillness and tranquility," Okudah said. "I think that's been pretty big for me, staying in the present moment. Those things have been really applicable to my game, and I think they've helped me on the field so far."

The linebackers will be under the microscope all season. But, for the first couple of days of camp, veteran Jamie Collins has been reacting quickly in coverage, and the newly acquired Alex Anzalone has excelled in zone coverage and red-zone drills.

On Saturday, rookie Jerry Jacobs was the first defensive back to secure an interception, as he picked off a Tim Boyle pass intended for tight end Charlie Taumoepeau. It sent the entire defense into a frenzy and the offense reeling during red-zone work. 

Defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant impresses early 

The video boards located at the Allen Park practice facility have drawn the attention of the coaching staff and the majority of the media members in attendance.

On Saturday, Pleasant worked with defensive backs coach Todd Wash to understand how the edge was sealed so easily, allowing the running back to take advantage of the outside. 

Pleasant had a lengthy review of another play with Collins, after T.J. Hockenson scored and Collins was bottled up. 

All throughout camp, Pleasant has been working diligently on fundamentals with his secondary and providing words of encouragement after solid plays are executed. 

"He’s a stud. I was in his meeting -- I try to go to all of our coaches' meetings at some point or another to watch the practices after the practices, watch the film. Or I’ll go in for installs and kind of get a feel of them with the players and get a feel of the players interacting with them, just the feel of the room. He is as advertised, I would tell you that," Campbell said. "He is a hell of a teacher. He is engaging, he’s thorough, he’s interactive, he’s energetic, he’s vibrant. He gets it. There’s a reason why he’s good at what he does, and he’s coached some good players and developed good talent. I’ll be honest, the whole staff is." 

Briefly

  • Quarterback Tim Boyle found wideout Kalif Raymond for a deep completion, with Alex Brown in coverage.
  • Mike Ford has been earning reps playing the slot position in nickel packages.
  • Kicker Matthew Wright is not doing himself many favors, as he missed three-of-six field goals Saturday. It is veteran Randy Bullock's job to lose at this point.
  • Campbell pumped up the season-ticket holders with a speech that was a prime example of why he was hired. Fans will stick behind this coach much longer than anyone from the former regime.