Washington has 'lots of toys' to test Lions defense
Allen Park – Ready or not, the Lions’ defense is going to face its toughest test yet on Sunday.
After being gashed by the Rams’ worst-ranked offense last weekend, the Lions are looking to find a way to slow down one of the hottest teams in the league – Washington.
Led by former Michigan State star Kirk Cousins, Washington is tied for fifth in total offense (378.2 yards), fifth in passing yards (276.8) and 12th in rushing yards (110.3).
Its offense features speed across the board in receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis, and running backs Matt Jones and Chris Thompson, who are both averaging at least 4.6 yards per carry.
“We understand that they have a lot of weapons and we have to neutralize them,” Lions safety Rafael Bush said. “Cousins has a lot of toys he can play with. It's like a little kid having a bunch of toys and he just can't wait to go outside and play with them. That's what they have on their offensive side of the ball.”
Despite rough overall performances the past two weeks, the defense has been able to finish games and come up with late stops and game-sealing takeaways, an area Bush said has been the greatest improvement.
“Last week obviously wasn't pretty, but we fought for 60 minutes and that's our biggest thing,” Bush said. “We just to make sure that we are in tune and we are in games at the end so that we can have an opportunity to win.
“We're trying to get to 3-0 in this quarter and we understand we have our hands full, but we accept the challenge."
According to defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, the challenge Washington presents is one of the best offensive lines – if not the best – and the most balanced offense the Lions will have faced so far this season.
“When you’re balanced and you’re operating as well as they are, if you try to load up to stop the run, they can throw the ball over the top of you,” Austin said. “If you sit back in zones they can hit you underneath with Reed and do some things like that.
“If you try to climb up on them and pressure them then you take the chance of (Jackson) or (Garcon) or even (Jamison Crowder) getting behind you. They do, they test you and they’re going to test us at all levels this week. We’re going to have our work cut out for us.”