Ranking the Lions' 5 Biggest Weaknesses

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Logan Lamorandier

Sitting at 3-6-1, the Lions have no shortage of issues. 

Let's break down the five biggest weaknesses that the Lions and general manager Bob Quinn must find a way to improve upon this offseason: 

5. Defensive Scheme

This is a very broad issue that will probably be brought up again with some of the other weaknesses. 

The defensive scheme has become very stale and all too predictable.

With a defense that was supposed to be "multiple," Matt Patricia's defense sure has looked exactly the same from week to week: Man-to-man heavy with a minimal amount of creative blitzes and stunts. 

Maybe this scheme can work elsewhere. 

However, given how bad it's been this year in Detroit, why not try to shake things up?

For a talented defense that was considered to be the strength of the team before the season, the overall performance so far has been unacceptable.

4. Run Blocking

First off, it doesn't help that the Lions have rotated through running backs that have been other teams' scraps all season. 

As weird as it sounds, this doesn't all fall on the offensive line. 

Both center Frank Ragnow and guard Graham Glasgow have done a nice job. 

Although far from perfect, even left tackle Taylor Decker and tight end T.J. Hockenson deserve some credit.

Outside of those four players, everyone else has had their fair share of missed blocks. 

It really only takes one weak link up front to blow up a run play. 

Perhaps the biggest disappointment has been when the Lions are in heavy-run formations utilizing multiple tight ends and/or a fullback. 

Tight ends Jesse James and Logan Thomas have been a liability, while fullback Nick Bawden leaves much to be desired as well.

Is it any coincidence that some of the Lions' best rushing performances have come when they have moved away from multiple tight-end-and-two-back sets?

3. Tackling

This has been an odd transformation from a year ago. 

The Lions were a very reliable unit just a year ago in terms of tackling. 

It was one reason why the Lions' defense was trending up after last season. 

Going into Week 11, Detroit had already missed more tackles than they did in all of 2018. 

This year, the Lions' defense is near the bottom of the NFL in missed tackles per game.

At the NFL level, yes, coaches should be coaching these players up on the "fundamentals." 

However, at a certain point, these professionals need to take responsibility for their miscues.

2. Penalties

Not to get into any conspiracy theories, but what a surprise, the Lions are averaging the third-most penalties per game. 

For a team that already has a plethora of issues, you add shooting yourself in the foot, and it's a recipe for disaster.

No team is perfect. 

It's the multitude of mental mistakes and negated big plays that make you want to pull your hair out, though.

1. Pass Rush

The Lions' lack of pass rush has been well-documented. 

Every game, it just feels like opposing quarterbacks have all the time in the world to find a receiver. 

Knowing that the Lions don't have any elite pass-rushing threats, it falls back on the defensive scheme for not doing them any favors.

So often, Detroit only rushes three defenders, and rarely blitzes. 

It sets the defensive backs and linebackers up to fail. 

Devon Kennard is a nice player, but he isn't the type of high-end pass rusher the Lions make him out to be. 

Being without defensive end Da'Shawn Hand and defensive Mike Daniels for most of the year definitely hasn't helped out, either. 

However, there are other ways to manufacture pressure, and the Lions' coaching staff has seemed reluctant and too stubborn to try out something different all season long.

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