Marinelli Still Believes In Lions Defense

Despite giving up 318 rushing yards, Lions' head coach and players remain convinced that the team's defense will be fine. More inside.

At least the Green Bay Packers don't have Brett Favre anymore.

Favre has carved up the Lions for years, and he would have been the last thing they needed to face Sunday in their home opener.

In a 34-21 season-opening loss at Atlanta, the Lions defense looked like the same defense that finished last in the NFL last year in yards and points allowed.

The Falcons were supposed to be easy prey with a rookie coach, a rookie quarterback and a weak offensive line.

But Matt Ryan threw a 62-yard touchdown pass on his first NFL attempt, and he finished 9-for-13 for 161 yards in his first NFL start.

How is Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers going to do in his second NFL start, leading a team that went to overtime of the NFC title game last year?

The Falcons ran all over the Lions -- past them, over them, through them. They racked up a team-record 318 rushing yards.

Michael Turner, LaDainian Tomlinson's understudy the past four years, looked like, well, LaDainian Tomlinson. He rushed for a career-high 220 yards and two touchdowns. His career high for a season is 502. Jerious Norwood added 93 yards.

Green Bay's Ryan Grant must be excited.

"It's tackling," Lions coach Rod Marinelli said. "It comes down to that. Anybody can see that. The fits are OK, but we've got to wrap him up and get more hats on the ball. That's something we've emphasized and emphasized, and we didn't do it."

Nobody saw this coming, though. The Lions allowed a league-low 32 points in the preseason. You can write that off, but the Lions allowed 99 points in the preseason last year, and that was an indicator of what was to come.

Asked if Sunday's performance was a surprise, Marinelli said: "It is, because I think we've been doing a nice job of that. It is. It's something I won't tolerate. It's something we have to do."

It isn't just one thing.

"Missed tackling can come from a lot of different ways," linebacker Ernie Sims said. "That's just the final result. I mean, wrong angles to the ball, misalignments, people not swarming to the ball -- it can be a number of things, and that's what happened."

How do they fix it?

"You work on it," linebacker Paris Lenon said. "You work on your angles. You work on running your feet, wrapping, angles to the ball, getting more than one guy to the party. That's what we do. We just didn't do it well today."

Marinelli still believes in his defense.

"No, I believe in them," Marinelli said. "I believe in them 100 percent, and the way I believe in them is, be determined to go back out and coach them very hard next week. That's how you show belief in people."

Defensive end Cory Redding was defiant.

"Don't try to write us off," Redding said. "We're good. It just didn't show up today. ...

"It's the first game of the season, and we obviously are not happy with these results. Listen, if we would have made tackles, their backs would not have had all of the yards they had. Mark my words: We are a much better team than we showed today."


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