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Lions' Defense Not Equipped to Succeed in 2021

Detroit Lions' Week 2 loss to the Green Bay Packers proved their defense is not equipped to succeed in 2021.

Well, so much for the thought that the Detroit Lions' defense, after its disastrous performance in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers, had turned the corner on Monday night against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. 

Going into the primetime matchup between the NFC North divisional rivals, the memory of allowing 31 first-half points to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1 was still fresh in the minds of Lions fans from near and afar. 

So, there wasn't much confidence from the fanbase -- and maybe even the organization deep down -- that Detroit would come anywhere close to stopping Rodgers and the Packers' offense in Week 2. 

However, then the first half happened Monday, and things started to suddenly reverse course for Detroit's defense. 

The Lions, via defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, deployed an effective gameplan through the first two quarters, throwing a heavy amount of zone coverage looks at Rodgers. 

It helped make Rodgers look "human" in the opening half, and aided in limiting him to just 75 first-half passing yards. Detroit also impressively held Green Bay to just 14 points in the half. 

So, when you added up the points allowed by the Lions in the final two quarters against the 49ers and in the first two quarters against the Packers, it amounted to a rather pedestrian 24 points. 


At this point, the Lions had some fans believing that maybe, just maybe, the team was beginning to put its defensive woes from last year behind it. No longer would the organization, which set a franchise record for points and yards allowed in a single season in 2020, be a laughingstock defensively. 

And then the second half occurred, and all those positive thoughts went by the wayside, as all hell broke loose for Glenn & Co. 

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The Lions reverted to their erroneous defensive ways from a season ago, and the Packers went on to score three straight touchdowns to open up the half. 

Rodgers, meanwhile, bounced back from his mediocre first half, and proceeded to throw for 180 second-half yards. 

And, along the way, he made Detroit's defense look foolish. 

During the first Packers drive of the third quarter, he connected with Davante Adams on a perfect deep ball that went for 50 yards. In on the coverage for the Lions was rookie cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu, who not only got turned around on the play but also got hurt. Soon after, Melifonwu exited the game with a thigh injury that Detroit head coach Dan Campbell deemed to be "a bad one" after the game. 

Then, on the same drive, linebacker Alex Anzalone, who struggled all night in pass coverage, got beaten on a route run by Packers tight end Robert Tonyan, who took a strike from Rodgers to the end zone. It put Green Bay ahead for good, 21-17. 

In the first two weeks of the 2021 campaign, Anzalone, a free-agent pickup of the Lions this offseason, has been subpar against both the pass and run. So, maybe it's finally time for rookie linebacker Derrick Barnes to get more playing time -- something that the Detroit fanbase has wanted since Barnes' impressive preseason.

Campbell was asked about playing the Purdue product more during his postgame media session Monday.

"Look, let me watch the tape. Certainly, there are some plays in there where we want those guys to come downhill, we need to see them come downhill. Instead of playing laterally, play more downhill than laterally. So, I want to watch the tape, and certainly, look, Barnes has been on our mind, because he showed in the preseason, he will run and hit," Campbell said. "And so, yeah, we’re going to be looking at everything. We’re going to be looking at receivers, we’re going to be looking at our ‘backers, we’re going to be looking at everybody. Anybody we think can help us and that we need to get a look at, we’ll take a look at.”  

Rodgers & Co. toyed with the Lions' defense all throughout the final half of play, outscoring Detroit in the third and fourth quarters combined, 21-0. And, in doing so, the Green Bay signal-caller exposed the Lions for what they really are on defense: Mediocre.  

It's a harsh reality for Lions fans to accept, but just like last year, Detroit's defense is not built to win football games in 2021. 

Coach Glenn, it's time to get back to the drawing board.