Offensive coordinator Jim Colletto and defensive coordinator Joe Barry met with reporters Thursday afternoon to discuss this week's home opener against Green Bay and last week's loss to Atlanta. Some thoughts:
Barry was harsh in his criticism of the defense's play against the Falcons, when the Lions allowed three first-quarter touchdowns and tackled like a high-school team. "Yeah, it was disheartening," Barry said. "I was confused by it because I thought we really did, especially with the offseason we had, with the training camp that we had, even though the first group didn't play a ton in the preseason but the amount that they did play, they played fast and they played hard and they tackled and they swarmed, and we didn't do that (against Atlanta). It was a little shocking."
In trying to put his finger on why things went so wrong, Barry repeated a word Lions coach Rod Marinelli used in his Monday press conference tentative. "I think it's natural when, on the third, the seventh and the 13th play of the game they score touchdowns, and on the 14th play you look up and it's 21-0, I think it's just human nature to kind of freak out a little bit and we did," Barry said. "We just got to get back to playing fast and playing hard and swarming to the football. That's what we preach, that's what we talk about, that's what you have to do to be successful in this defense."
Barry said the Lions didn't dramatically alter anything this week to account for their tackling woes. They went through regular tackling circuits in practice Wednesday and Thursday, and in meetings Monday he showed clips of "every guy in the room that missed tackles making tackles." "We all of a sudden didn't just become a bad tackling team over night," Barry said. "Now we had a horrendous day, no doubt about it. But I believe, these guys have proven to me in training camp and in four preseason games that they can tackle. They've shown that. Now they got to go out and do it Sunday."
Also Sunday, Colletto said fans will get their first look at right tackle Gosder Cherilus, who should play as George Foster's backup. "We're going to probably try to get Gosder in the game some. He needs to play," Colletto said. "I don't know how much he'll rotate, but I'm going to try to get him in the game some."
Cherilus said he doesn't know how much he'll play, but it doesn't sound like more than a series or two. I do think the Lions are being kind of disingenuous with their explanation of why their first-round pick isn't starting. "We're probably right now going a little bit more with the experience factor at this point," Colletto said. Fine. Understandable, especially against Green Bay defensive end Aaron Kampman, though I still disagree with it. But Colletto also said the Lions are worried about Cherilus' health considering he's their only lineman who can play both tackle positions. "If Goz is in there and he got injured and then one of those other guys got injured, then any of you guys can play tackle, you can come and play," Colletto said. Huh? Whether Cherilus starts or not won't change the bind the Lions will be in if any of their three tackles gets hurt.
From last week's loss, Colletto said he wanted to see the Lions play with a faster tempo on their only fourth-quarter possession. They took over with 10:23 on the clock, ran six plays, and punted the ball four minutes later never to see it again. "I was yelling through the phone, 'Faster, faster, faster,'" Colletto said. I do think the Lions were right to not go hurry-up in that situation. They were down less than two touchdowns, and as Marinelli explained Monday, "We were struggling playing them (on defense) and you wanted to hopefully eliminate another possession on their part."
Last Colletto thought for the day, on rookie running back Kevin Smith, who should get his second start Sunday. "He played well," Colletto said. "The opening play of the game he really was excited and he cut the ball back way too soon, which is typical of first-year running backs in this offense. But as the game went on he did a nice job. He really carries himself well. He wasn't seeing ghosts and he knew what was going on and all that. he did a nice job."
Labels: Detroit Lions, George Foster, Gosder Cherilus, Jim Colletto, Joe Barry, Kevin Smith, Rod Marinelli