Dan Campbell plans to do "a deep dive" into his struggling defense, but the second-year Detroit Lions coach does not sound like he's ready to make any seismic changes like he did on the offensive side of the ball last season.
The Lions' league-worst defense allowed season-highs in points and yards Sunday, wasting an unexpectedly potent performance by their offense on a day when they played without their three best offensive playmakers in a 48-45 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Ford Field.
"That was a poor defensive performance," rookie defensive end Aidan Hutchinson said. "We have to do better. Your offense scores 45, I think we have to win that game."
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Rashaad Penny ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns and Geno Smith threw for 320 yards and two more scores as the Lions struggled to stop a Seattle offense that scored 47 points in its first three games, tied for fourth-fewest in the league.
The Seahawks (2-2) finished with 555 yards of offense Sunday and ended their first eight possessions with a touchdown or field goal attempt. The failed to score on just two of nine possessions for the day, when Jason Myers missed a 39-yard field goal wide left in the third quarter after a bad snap and at the end of the game when they took two kneel-down snaps to run out the clock.
For the Lions, it was their most points allowed since a 51-29 loss to the Seahawks in Week 17 last season, and their most yards allowed since giving up 588 in a 47-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers late in 2020.
Campbell said his defense, which is allowing a league-worst 35.3 points per game, lacks confidence and is making repeated errors that "falls into our boats as coaches."
"I just don't feel our swagger," Campbell said. "I mean, we knew if we could get this team in second-and-long that would go a long way and then, we would - you would need to produce because it's been an area where that team has not been as good. And boy, we didn't make the most of it. Now look, they got us in a couple of third downs there late, third-and-longs that we have not been exposed to yet. And they gutted us. They got us good. And it was good designs by them, good play designs and in critical moments, they - it was good. It was real good by them."
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Campbell, who demoted offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn after an 0-8 start last season, said he's "going to look at everything" from players to schemes this week before the Lions (1-3) visit the New England Patriots (1-3) and with a bye awaiting in Week 6.
He said that does not mean he will play a bigger hand in running the defense, however, and he defended second-year coordinator Aaron Glenn.
Last season, Campbell took over offensive play-calling duties after demoting Lynn.
"I've got a lot of faith in Aaron Glenn," Campbell said. "I've got a ton of faith in those assistants, and I think it's just - I think we sit down and I think we look at everything together. Because really, I think more than anything maybe it's time for a deep dive, a real deep dive into it. Players, everything that we're doing, but I also trust what he's doing. And there's a reason why I hired him, and so I want to let him do his job. But certainly, I'm going - I mean, I've got to look a lot deeper than I have."
Jared Goff completed 26 of 39 passes for 378 yards and four touchdowns Sunday for a Lions team that played without leading rusher D'Andre Swift, leading receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and deep threat DJ Chark because of injuries.
The Lions got big days from Jamaal Williams (19 carries, 108 yards, 2 TDs) and T.J. Hockenson (eight catches, 179 yards, 2 TDs), but had no answer for a Seahawks offense that moved the ball at will both on the ground and through the air.
Smith, a journeyman with his fourth NFL team, completed 16 of his first 18 passes and had a perfect passer rating early in the third quarter.
The Seahawks led, 24-15, at halftime, as fill-in Lions kicker Dominik Eberle missed extra points after two touchdowns, and extended their lead to 16 points on the first play of the third quarter when Tariq Woolen returned a Goff interception 40 yards for a touchdown.
"Just bad decision," Goff said. "Late, bad decision. Can't do it. Dumb."
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The Lions cut their deficit to 31-23 with 6:30 left in the third quarter before a wild sequence of events spun momentum back Seattle's way.
On third-and-16 from the 36-yard line, the Lions appeared to get a key stop when Smith threw incomplete in the direction of a trio of receivers to his left - just after an official on the Lions sideline, near where the pass was thrown, blew the play dead because of a malfunction with the game clock.
As fans jeered the do-over, the Lions lined up in an all-out blitz with eight men on the line of scrimmage. Smith handed the ball to Penny, who followed a pulling block from left guard Damien Lewis through a gaping hole on the right side of the line.
Penny juked Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye at the 25 and ran untouched to the end zone to give the Seahawks a 38-23 lead as Lions fans booed officials and threw debris on the field.
The Lions answered on the ensuing drive, after an 81-yard run-and-catch by Hockenson set up Goff's 3-yard touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds. But the two teams traded scores in the fourth quarter until Penny sealed the Seattle win with a 41-yard touchdown run on third-and-5 with 2:14 to play.
Campbell deflected some blame from his defense after the game, saying the Lions can't have turnovers - Kalif Raymond also lost a fumble that set up a Seattle score - and he and his staff are at fault for the unit's repeated struggles.
But defensive captain Alex Anzalone said poor defensive play is the root of the team's disappointing 1-3 start.
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"I mean, look at the four games," he said. "I mean, (in a Week 2 win against Washington) I think we did a good job in the first half and then they were in a throwing the ball situation and trying to do their best plays, so that's why you give up those points. But the other three games I feel like, you don't want to blame fingers but as a defensive player you look in the mirror as like, 'What could I do personally and what could bring guys along to get done going forward?' It's a tough situation to be in."
The Lions have allowed at least 27 points in every game this season, failed to record a sack Sunday and have just two takeaways on the year.
"Not a real good performance, which falls on me," Campbell said. "We weren't real sharp, it wasn't real clean, we had penalties, we had turnovers, one of those was for seven points which was the difference in the game. And then, defensively, man, we weren't good. Special teams made some plays, but then there were a couple we gave up too. So, it was just - it wasn't clean and that's on me."
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Dan Campbell defends Aaron Glenn after Detroit Lions' 48-45 loss