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Detroit Lions in Review - Secondary

The cornerbacks of the Detroit Lions get somewhat of a raw deal from the fans. Countless times I have heard fans calling in saying how bad they are. The commentators on sports talk radio often have said the same. I have a different opinion and all I ask is that you keep an open mind as you read it.

If the two best cornerbacks in the NFL came over to the Lions, do you really think they would shut down the opponents passing game? I don't. I don't because I don't care how great a cornerback is, if he has to cover a receiver for five, six or even seven seconds, that receiver will get open often. You can cover a good receiver for a few seconds and sometimes five or six seconds, but only once in a while. There is not a cornerback in the NFL who can cover even a decent receiver for five plus seconds almost every play. The Lions defensive line was so horrific that it was seldom the quarterback had any pressure on him. It was far too often the Lions cornerbacks were covering receiver for far too long.

Many times I have heard people complain that the Lions cornerbacks were beat for long passes. This is a fact. They were beat for some long ones. You know what? Every teams cornerbacks were beat for some long passes. Yes the Lions were beat more often. In fact, the Lions gave up more 40+ yard receptions than any team but Miami. We were tied with Miami with 17 receptions over 40 yards. Again, consider how much a bad defensive line can effect that stat. Not only did the Lions not pressure the quarterback, they also could hardly stop the run. This made the cornerbacks and safeties worry far too much about run support and more liable to break in on the play action passes.

Don't misunderstand me. I am not saying the Lions couldn't use a shut down corner. They can use some improvement there, but I don't think it is as bad as many believe. If the Lions should by some miracle get Ndomakong Suh in April's draft, their secondary will be automatically improved. If the Lions can put together a good defensive line, the opposing quarterbacks will not have near as much time to get rid of the ball. They will not sit so comfortably in the pocket. The Linebackers will be able to fill the holes to stop the run better. Cornerbacks and safeties, especially the safeties will not need to worry quite as much about the run and might not bite on the play action as much.

In 2009 the Lions secondary looked like the worst in the NFL. With a good defensive line, that secondary might find itself in the middle of the pack. Still can use some improvement but not near as bad as it may seem.

The quick development of Louis Delmas was special to watch. By seasons end, as a rookie, he was making all of the secondary defensive play calls. Delmas was 2nd on the team with 94 tackles and had 2 interceptions as well. With a year of experience under his belt now and with a better defensive line, he will only get better.
Grade = ( A )

Phillip Buchanon is a decent veteran and will benefit by an improved line as well.
Grade = ( B- )

Kevin Hobbs is one player the fans complained about being beat too often. I think that will improve with better play at the line and I liked Hobbs aggressiveness when tackling. Like Delmas, he attacks the ball carrier with no hesitation.
Grade = ( C )

Ko Simson I am not a big fan of. Several times I saw him come in to tackle a running back on a screen pass. Several times he stopped and waited for the running back to make his move first rather than attacking.
Grade = ( D )

Anthony Henry will make a good veteran for depth but I don't see him as an every day starter anymore. But if the Lions do not get a safety in free agency or the draft who is better, I would rather see Henry play safety than Ko Simson. Yes I know Henry is a cornerback but at 6'1" he is big enough to make the switch and it would suit him better as he has lost a step with age.
Grade = ( C )

Overall Grade = ( C+ )

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