Lions pass defense has dramatically improved over the last 3 weeks

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Looking for a silver lining in the winless clouds hanging over the Detroit Lions? Take a look at the young secondary and the steps the pass defense has taken over the last three games.

Despite losing top CB Jeff Okudah in Week 1 and his replacement, Ifeatu Melifownu in Week 2, the Lions pass defense has performed much better in Weeks 3-5 than it did in the opening two games. Some of that credit must go to youngsters like Jerry Jacobs, AJ Parker and Bobby Price, who have made some plays while taking their lumps as they learn how to play in the NFL on the fly.

The Lions still sit 30th overall for the season in QB Rating allowed to opposing passers. The 110.9 cumulative rating is ahead of only the Colts (124.9) and Jaguars (115.5) through five games. But Detroit’s awful ranking is weighted heavily by the dreadful first two weeks.

Over the last three weeks, the Lions have allowed a QB Rating of 87.0 to the Ravens, Bears and Vikings. That’s the 11th-best QB Rating allowed in that timeframe and well below the league average of 99.7 in those three weeks.

Detroit’s patchwork set of young cornerbacks has allowed just two touchdown passes in those three games, all losses. They held MVP candidate Lamar Jackson to just 16-of-31 passing, for 287 yards, one TD and one INT in Week 3. Chicago’s Justin Fields completed 11-for-17 but also threw an interception against no TDs, while Kirk Cousins threw for 275 yards, one TD and one INT. That’s not bad defense against a guy who had a QB Rating over 112 and a 9/1 TD/INT ratio entering the Week 5 game.

A good pass rush has helped. The Lions are sixth overall on the season in sack percentage and seventh in the last three weeks. Inserting speedier Jalen Reeves-Maybin into the lineup at LB has worked well, and safety Tracy Walker’s strong performance in coverage certainly helps too.

They will be challenged by Joe Burrow and the visiting Cincinnati Bengals in Week 6. Burrow is fifth in yards per pass (8.8) and seventh in QB Rating (106.4) through five games and has the NFL’s leader in receiving touchdowns in dynamic rookie WR Ja’Marr Chase.

If the Lions can get through this one without losing ground in their improvement, it’s a testimony to coordinator Aaron Glenn, DBs coach Aubrey Pleasant and the players themselves for quickly turning around their fortunes,

All stats are from Team Rankings.

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