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Roundtable: Is Aaron Glenn a Miracle Worker?

Latest AllLions Roundtable focuses on how the Detroit Lions' defense will perform in year No. 2 under Aaron Glenn.
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1.) What was your biggest takeaway from the Lions' preseason opener?

Vito Chirco: The offense looked good its first series, with starting signal-caller Jared Goff leading the way. But, the defense, as a whole, was still far from good enough. It is definitely in need of some fine-tuning, and hopefully Aaron Glenn's unit will shape up as the 2022 campaign progresses. 

John Maakaron: The biggest takeaway for me was the defense will need to be the unit that is upgraded the most over the next couple of seasons. It can be argued the team still needs more interior defensive linemen, cornerbacks and linebackers. It was a little disheartening for the defense to allow the Falcons to simply march up the field, after the offense kicked the game off with a nice touchdown. While it is still early, the play of the defense did not do nearly enough to calm the nerves of supporters. 

2. How concerned are you about Detroit's defense? 

Chirco: I'm very concerned. Sure, it was just the first preseason game. But, think about it from this perspective: Glenn's defense allowed 27.5 points per game a season ago, and realistically, outside of adding Aidan Hutchinson, not much was done to upgrade the unit. The linebackers, just like last year, are a big-time weak link, and the cornerbacks behind Amani Oruwariye could also be in store for some struggles throughout the course of the season. Additionally, I didn't see enough Friday to get me excited about the defensive side of the ball. 

Maakaron: I don't think Aaron Glenn can work miracles. Adding Aidan Hutchinson will improve the overall play of the defensive line, but the lack of size and high-end talent on defense will eventually cost this team. It is clear the linebackers struggle with maintaining gap responsibilities and over pursuit of running backs, which easily makes them prone to getting burnt by shifty backs and mobile quarterbacks. The hope has to be that the offense is good enough to carry this football team.

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3.) Should the Lions have drafted Falcons QB Desmond Ridder? 

Chirco: I'm not going to say that after one preseason game. Now, Ridder did showcase some signs of being able to start in the league one day, especially via his ability to make plays with his legs. But, I'd like to give the Lions players drafted before and after Ridder -- EDGE Josh Paschal (second round) and safety Kerby Joseph (third round) -- a chance to prove their worth before making such a profound statement. 

Maakaron: I liked Ridder's athleticism, and felt he carried himself well in his debut game. The ability to elude defenders and make plays with your feet is now coveted by many teams when front offices evaluate quarterbacks.

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Detroit does not have a mobile quarterback, and thus is susceptible to giving up sacks. I wouldn't have minded drafting Ridder over Josh Paschal. 

4.) Which Lions player impressed you the most? 

Chirco: Aidan Hutchinson. He looked as good as advertised Friday night, exerting his forceful nature along the Lions' defensive line. He was a menace in the Atlanta Falcons' backfield, wrapping up running back Qadree Ollison on the Falcons' first drive of the game. For the Lions' sake, hopefully it's a sign of things to come from the Michigan product.

Maakaron: While many were impressed with Aidan Hutchinson, I was quite impressed with the play of wideout Tom Kennedy. He is unheralded, but he is a reliable target when given the opportunity to play. 

"I would just say I’m not surprised. That’s Tom Kennedy. He’s just dependable, that’s all he is just dependable. He’s just very dependable, that’s all he is," Dan Campbell said postgame Friday. 

5.) Was the emphasis on the coaching staff unusual for the debut episode of "Hard Knocks"?

Chirco: I'm going to say no, because of the cast of characters Detroit has on its coaching staff, spearheaded by Lions head coach Dan Campbell. Campbell is a fiery individual, with unique mannerisms. He's prone to offer interesting soundbites that go viral, too. So, I expect profiling him to remain a constant throughout this season of Hard Knocks.

Also, the show is focused on building players and coaches into stars that people tune in for. So, it wasn't surprising to see some trash-talking between Lions running backs coach Duce Staley and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn featured. It was a lively exchange, and it's an aspect of training camp that has become a hallmark of Hard Knocks over the years and has made it such a popular HBO program.

Maakaron: Emphasizing the relationship between Aaron Glenn and Duce Staley was quite entertaining for sure. But, I think locally we all know about the experience of the coaching staff.

Part of why I like Hard Knocks is the stories about the players. I think it is clear that outside of Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit does not have that many high-profile players that would appeal to the country. But, I am still looking forward to learning about the struggles of a couple members of the roster in their pursuit of making an NFL team.