When the Lions and Vikings met in Week Four, Minnesota’s Percy Harvin returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and Marcus Sherels later returned a punt for a touchdown on the way to a 20-13 win. When the Lions and Vikings meet again on Sunday, Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier doesn’t expect to win the special teams battle so convincingly.
Frazier said this week that he and his staff identified problems in the Lions’ kick coverage that they expected to be able to exploit when they met in Week Four.
“I remember in our first special teams kickoff return meeting we saw some things, and we pointed out that if everybody held their blocks, Percy’s going to score,” Frazier said. “I mean, it was obvious. There are some things that we saw if we just held our blocks and our guys did it. They leveraged the football. They got where they needed to be and Percy did the rest.”
It doesn’t speak well for the Lions’ coaching staff that they had “obvious” flaws in their kick coverage, especially considering that the Lions had just lost to the Titans the week before in a game in which they also gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown. But Frazier said that in watching more recent film of the Lions, it was clear that those flaws have been fixed.
“They’re much improved,” Frazier said. “They’re not even the same special teams by any means. They’ve changed personnel, they’re playing so, so much better as a group across the board. It’s a different special teams unit than we faced earlier this season. They’ve made some dramatic changes that have worked out well for them.”
It’s obvious that the Lions can’t afford to give up two more kick return touchdowns to the Vikings on Sunday.