Help is on the way for the Lions' defensive line

Posted Aug 19, 2014

It’s only been two preseason games, but we’ve already seen a more aggressive approach from the linebackers.

Help is on the way for Ndamukong Suh, C.J. Mosley, Jason Jones, Ziggy Ansah and the rest of the Detroit Lions defensive line this season.

It is help in the form of DeAndre Levy, Stephen Tulloch and the rest of the Detroit Lions linebackers.

Kyle Van NoyLB Kyle Van Noy (Photo: Gavin Smith)

It’s only been two preseason games, but we’ve already seen a more aggressive approach from defensive coordinator Teryl Austin in terms of bringing pressure with his linebackers.

Austin and the Lions have said all along they plan to blitz more than the 18.3 percent of the time they did in drop back situations last year. The SAM linebacker has come after the quarterback early and often this preseason. Even Levy and Tulloch seem to be much more involved in the blitz game, sometimes on the same play.

“As the SAM we’re on the line more and we’re doing a lot more blitzing,” veteran Ashlee Palmer said. “I love it. It’s giving us a chance to get after the quarterback more, instead of sitting back and letting the quarterback dictate what we do.

“We’re actually getting after the quarterback and putting an extra blitzer with our front.”

For the last few years the Lions have relied heavily on their front four to cause the bulk of the pressure, while asking the linebackers to read and react to the big guys in front of them. Linebackers in the old system essentially played off the big guys in front of them. That’s not the case anymore, Palmer says.

”It’s definitely attack,” he said. “We put all the pressure on (the defensive line in the past).”

It’s a talented defensive line, no doubt, but too many times last year teams countered by keeping tight ends on the line of scrimmage or chipping the ends with running backs.

The result was just 33 sacks, fifth fewest in the league.

The idea in this scheme is to help take some pressure off the defensive line and help set up more one-on-one opportunities by bringing pressure from a lot of different directions. It’s designed to keep offenses guessing where the pressure might come from.

“It’s huge,” Mosley said. “It will free us up a little bit more and just get more one-on-one situations. And if I was you, I’d put your money on us up front in any one-on-one situation.”

Mosley admitted it was tough at times last year to get to the quarterback when opponents were leaving seven and even eight players in to block in some cases.

“Offenses have to do their job and protect their quarterbacks and I don’t think they were in the wrong for doing that at all,” he said. “Especially with the guys we have. You have to do what you can to protect the quarterback.”

The Lions haven’t fully unleashed their blitz packages in the preseason, which is par for the course, but Mosley says he can already seen an impact the extra help is having on his line mates.

“Guys are playing a lot more loose and comfortable. We don’t have to do as much upfront,” he said. “Anything to get us in that one on one situation, we’re all for it.”