We have heard different hints all offseason about what to expect from the Detroit Lions on defense under new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. While it would be insane for the coaching staff to tell us exactly what to expect this early in the offseason, I think we can speculate as to what we should see in terms of defensive alignments, defensive fronts, and coverages in the new Detroit Lions defense.
Veteran free safety Glover Quin gave us a glimpse of what we can expect when he said today that the new defense feels like they “have a bunch of tools” and that they “are looking for stuff to fix because you just want to use your tools” He attributes that to games in that they want to create turnovers and want to create a dominant defense because they are excited about all of the new looks and alignments they have to work with.
Earlier in the offseason, we heard Darius Slay say that the Detroit Lions will use a lot of press coverage which plays to his strengths. It also plays to the strengths of Chris Greenwood who, in his third season, is expected to show progress if he wants to make the team. Given the idea of using more press coverage, I suspect we will see that improvement. What does this press coverage matter though?
Last season, Jim Schwartz realized that the only way his defensive front could get to the quarterback is if he eliminated the ability of the opposing offenses to quick pass. The best way to do that is by having the corners play a press coverage with contact at the line of scrimmage. In theory, this is a great plan. In practice though, the Detroit Lions could not play a press zone coverage. Press coverage was designed to be played in a man to man coverage. Austin intends to do exactly that. Where things will be different though is in the defensive alignments. Most teams play a base 4-3 or 3-4. Austin said that the Detroit Lions will play some 4-3, some 3-4 and even some 5-2 depending on the situation so that he can keep opponents guessing. There was also a lot of talk about using a blitzing linebacker in situations when they drafted Kyle Van Noy. Considering all of the options he layed out, it is safe to say that the Detroit Lions will be interesting on defense and should never be boring.