Lions defense boils it down: Harass foes into heat-of-moment meltdowns

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Earlier this week, one thing Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia emphasized was simplifying what he was asking his players to do. And while it's difficult to quantify what that looks like in real-time, if the Lions' performance in Sunday's 34-16 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars can be directly tied to the decision to dial back the complexity within the game plan, it looked like one of Patricia's better decisions of his coaching tenure in Detroit. 

Detroit Lions linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. (58) breaks up a pass intended for Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Tyler Davis, left, during the second half Sunday.

"Through my coaching career, I have been in that situation when you get to the end of September and you take evaluation of where you are at and what you are doing well," Patricia said. "I think the guys played fast. I can’t necessarily say that everything was simplified from a scheme standpoint, but from a coaching schedule standpoint, maybe from the responsibility standpoint, maybe some packages with less rotation that way. Whatever bricks we felt we could take off their plate, we just wanted to do that."

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Against the Jaguars, the Lions did two things they've struggled to do this year. They stopped the run, limiting the opponent to 44 yards. And they got steady pressure on the passer, often utilizing blitzes to do so, even if it didn't necessarily show up in the sack total. 

“We got them one dimensional by stopping the run and now we can pin our ears back," defensive end Trey Flowers said. "Like you said, we did not get the sack numbers but focusing on the rush and making them throw it fast, it affects the quarterback."

And in all of it, the Lions just looked noticeably faster, particularly on defense, which was the entire purpose of simplifying things — getting players to think less and react quicker. 

"I mean we just knew we could play better, and we just needed to find a way to play better and I think we did that," safety Duron Harmon said. "I wouldn’t say (this game was a) statement because doing it for one game means nothing. I mean we have to find ways to be consistent and that’s what we have to do now. We have to be a good defense this week, next week, and just keep finding ways to get better."

The Jaguars came into the game averaging 266 yards and 21 points. The Lions held them the 275 and 16 on Sunday. Up next is the Atlanta Falcons, who hung 40 points on the Minnesota Vikings to pick up their first win of the season.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers