Detroit Lions defense is once again a liability

Dec 10, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Detroit Lions defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson (97)
Dec 10, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Detroit Lions defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson (97) / Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The numbers are pretty upsetting. Yes, the 9-4 Detroit Lions remain in first place in the NFC North. Dan Campbell’s club is two games ahead of the 7-6 Minnesota Vikings and three games ahead of the 6-7 Green Bay Packers. The Lions split with the latter this season, while Campbell’s team will face the Purple Gang at Minnesota in Week 16 and at home two weeks later.

It wasn’t all that long ago that the Lions owned a 5-1 record and were riding a four-game winning streak. Detroit had outscored the opposition by a combined 168-113 count, and Aaron Glenn’s defensive unit had surrendered only 11 offensive touchdowns.

Things have certainly changed for these division frontrunners, who are a very ordinary 4-3 in their last seven contests and have dropped two of their last three games. In their last seven outings, Glenn’s defensive unit has been gashed for 23 offensive TDs. Campbell’s club has allowed 201 points (28.7 average).

Last Sunday’s 28-13 loss to the last-place Chicago Bears at Soldier Field marked the sixth time in seven games that the Lions had allowed 26 points or more. Glenn’s defense gave up 142 yards rushing, the fifth time in their last seven games that Detroit surrendered at least 100 yards rushing. The Lions limited each of its first six opponents to below the century mark on the ground.

Defense has been an issue for a long time in the Motor City. In 2020, the team allowed 519 points, the second-highest single-season total in NFL annals. Things weren’t much better a year later (467 points). This current defensive slump is certainly concerning, and quarterback Jared Goff’s recent turnover issues (9 in his last 4 games) isn’t helping matters.

Expectations remain high for a team that is looking for its first division title since 1993 and it’s first postseason victory since ’91. If the Detroit Lions are to reach the playoffs and actually do some damage, Campbell, Glenn and company will need that defense to return to its early-season form…and quickly.