Detroit Lions still looking for right personnel to anchor defense
By DAVE HOGG
DETROIT — Two games into the season, Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell is still trying to find a foundation for his struggling defense.
After giving up 41 points in a season-opening loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Lions allowed 35 in an 18-point loss on Monday night. Only the Atlanta Falcons (80) have allowed more points in their first two games than Detroit.
“We’re looking for guys who are going to challenge the perimeter and we’re looking for guys who are going to rally to the football,” Campbell said. “If you watched Alex Anzalone, he was all over the field last night. Was he perfect? No, but he was in on almost every tackle. That’s the kind of guy we’re looking for.”
While Anzalone was making a lot of plays, he and fellow linebacker Jamie Collins struggled in coverage. Green Bay running back Aaron Jones scored three of his four touchdowns receiving, and Aaron Rodgers had nearly as many touchdown passes (four) as incompletions (five).
“We’ve got to get to the quarterback,” Campbell said. “I didn’t feel like our rush was there when it needed to be, especially on early downs.”
Jared Goff, given the tough task of replacing Matthew Stafford, has completed 68.8% of his passes and thrown for five scores in the first two games. He does need to limit the turnovers, as a pick-6 against the 49ers and a fumbled snap against Green Bay were turning points in the two losses.
“That was a game that was going back and forth offensively, which you kind of assumed with Aaron Rodgers,” Campbell said of the Green Bay game. “When you get into that type of game, your offense just has to find a way to score more points than they do.”
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Detroit was already struggling to cover receivers before rookie cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu went down with a thigh injury. Campbell confirmed Melifonwu will miss “a significant amount of time,” which means the Lions will have to find a replacement on the practice squad or the free-agent wire.
Campbell said the coaching staff would be discussing ways to get rookie linebacker Derrick Barnes onto the field — snaps that would probably come at the expense of Collins or in a pass-rush role since Anzalone is Detroit’s play-caller on defense.