The Detroit Lions have relied heavily on their front four to provide most of the pressure on the quarterback over the last few years.
In fact, the Lions blitzed just 18.3 percent of the time in drop-back passing situations last year, according to Pro Football Focus. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars blitzed less (16.7 percent).
Lions fans can expect that percentage to increase in Teryl Austin’s new defensive scheme.
“At the end of our season, when you look back on it, we will pressure more percentage-wise than the Lions of a year ago,” Linebackers coach Bill Sheridan told detroitlions.com.
That doesn’t mean we can expect to see the old Jerry Glanville “Grits Blitz” in Detroit, however.
“It doesn’t mean we’re going to pressure 95 percent of the time,” Sheridan said. “That’s insane. You can’t do that. I just think you’ll find that we’ll have a little higher percentage and I don’t think it’ll be as much as what’s being talked about.
“There’s this perception we’re going to be blitz happy and I don’t see that at all. I don’t think Teryl see’s that, but I just think as you look at the Lions from a year ago, and what I anticipate Teryl doing with our defense this year, we’ll pressure more.”
The Lions are going to do some creative things with the SAM linebacker as that position will be part linebacker and part pass rusher.
Even MIKE linebacker Stephen Tulloch and WILL linebacker
“I get to go a little bit more,” Tulloch said Sunday. “I get to pad my stats a little bit.”
The one consequence of blitzing more frequently, however, is the pressure it puts on the secondary. Bringing pressure and being able to cover behind it have to be in sync for it to really make a difference.
“The value of pressuring, especially for the passing game, is that you have a chance to affect the quarterback more,” Sheridan said. “But (during) most pressures the corners are isolated. Whether you’re playing ‘Fire Zone’ or not, you’re really playing man coverage on the X and the Z receiver.
“It’s how willing you are to do that and how frequent you’re willing to do that. You’ve got to do it because if you just rush four guys the whole year you’re relying on your four rushers to be overwhelmingly dominating against seven and eight man protections and they aren’t going to get there.”
The Lions finished last season with just 33 sacks, fifth-fewest in the NFL.