Pa Bucky Brooks
FOX Sports NFL analyst

NFL coaches often stand in front of their teams and talk about the importance of playing the extra football to win at the highest level. The concept of combining the three phases (offense, defense and special teams) is not new, but it is difficult to get each unit to perform at a high level at the same time.

U Detroit, Dan Campbell finds out how difficult it is to build a team that plays great football at every stage. While Lviv‘ offense leads the league in scoring, defense ranks last in Motown in points allowed per game (35.3), yards allowed (1,779), yards per rush (5.6), third down conversion percentage allowed (53% ) and red-zone efficiency (87%) after allowing a touchdown on 13 of 15 red-zone drives.

The stark contrast between the Lions’ high-scoring offense and porous defense makes them the only team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to lead the NFL in points per game and rank last in points allowed per game during the first four weeks of the season. .

With such a disparity in production and performance, it’s reasonable to expect tension between the offense and defense. The No. 1 ranked offense played better than anyone expected, and their success is in line with the goals and dreams that were expressed in the locker room. What’s more, they showed the grit and toughness that Campbell emphasized during training camp and the preseason.

While the defense has been playing hard and showing the competitive spirit Campbell wants, the lack of defensive execution has kept the team from winning games this season. The players won’t admit it, but they also know the defense hasn’t been up to its usual standards, and they’re watching Campbell to see how he handles the situation. If he holds the defense to his game, the rest of the team — especially the offense — will continue to hang on his every word and trust the process.

However, if he doesn’t hold the defense accountable or makes excuses for their shortcomings, the offense will lose respect for him as a leader and question his ability to turn the franchise around. Given the fallout surrounding his actions, the Lions leader must address defensive concerns in team meetings to maintain the culture of toughness and accountability he has preached since his arrival.

Despite the tension created by these tough conversations between Campbell and his team on defense, it’s important for the team to know that he’s not giving the defense a pass for its poor work.

Examining Campbell’s interactions with the press, he manages a tough balancing act of criticism but maintains his defense.

“I know this: we lack confidence. It is very clearly visible, it is one of the elements.” Lions coach Dan Campbell said of the defense. “We lack confidence and of course to do that you have to be productive in games and have success and stop your opponents and make some stops and things like that.

“So we lack confidence in certain areas and again we still make mistakes that get in our boat as coaches. This is our business.”

The second-year coach’s comments are spot on. Sure, the defense lacks confidence after giving up 141 points in four games, but the onus is on the players and coaches to fix that. Whether it’s a series of personnel changes to the starting lineup or adjustments to the defensive scheme or philosophy, the defensive staff must leave no stone unturned in trying to improve the performance of a unit that is clearly the weakest link on a competitive team.

“We can’t let anybody tear us down because as sad as it is right now, we’re not as far as we think we are,” Campbell said of his team’s defensive improvement. “But until we do something about it, stop talking about it, [it] doesn’t matter … And we have to train better, and [the players] gotta take it on man. They need some responsibility.”

Offensively, Campbell will need to get together with his personnel to see if the Lions can sustain their hot start to determine how he implements and executes the game management strategy. If the Lions are able to turn games into shootouts due to an explosive offense operating at an efficient level, the head coach can opt for more chances to keep the ball and sustain drives.

For example, the Lions ran a fake punt against Sea hawks increase possession in a game that has turned into a shootout. With resentment sizzling from behind Jared Gough and Co Lions could play on more fourths to increase your chances of scoring by keeping the ball away from your opponents.

As a head coach, Campbell must assess his team’s strengths and weaknesses to determine the best way to win games. With his offense lighting up the scoreboard every week, he needs to be relied upon to carry the weight until the defense figures out how to generate turnovers and get stops.

While this isn’t the version of complementary football that Campbell and others want to play, the Lions should do whatever they can to put a “W” in the win column.

Bucky Brooks is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He appears regularly on “Speak For Yourself” and also covers the game for NFL Network and co-hosts the “Moving the Sticks” podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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