Lions hire Teryl Austin to run their defense

Posted Jan 17, 2014

Austin, a former University of Michigan assistant, has had a strong record coaching the defensive backs in Baltimore

The Detroit Lions introduced Jim Caldwell as their new head coach on Wednesday. Thursday, Caldwell began his day on the job assembling his coaching staff.

First to join his staff is former Baltimore Ravens defensive backs coach Teryl Austin as his new defensive coordinator. The team and Austin agreed to terms on a new contract today.

Austin has spent 10 of the last 11 seasons as a defensive backs coach in the NFL, including stints with the Seattle Seahawks (2003-05), Arizona Cardinals (2007-09) and most recently with the Ravens (2011-13). All three of those teams played in a Super Bowl while he was on staff. The Ravens won it last year.

Teryl AustinTeryl Austin (Photo: Photo AP Images)

Austin has had a strong record coaching the defensive backs in Baltimore. The Ravens finished 12th against the pass last season. They were 17th in 2012 and fourth in 2011.

Last season, Austin’s starting cornerbacks in Baltimore, Lardarius Webb (second) and Jimmy Smith (14th), both finished in the Top-15 in the NFL in pass defenses with 22 and 16, respectively.

He mentored three Cardinals defensive backs to the Pro Bowl as Arizona’s defensive backs coach (2007-09) including cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, safety Antrel Rolle and safety Adrian Wilson. His Cardinals secondary also led the league in interception-touchdowns (six) in 2007.

He also spent four seasons coaching defensive backs at Michigan and will continue to run the 4-3 defense.

Caldwell said Wednesday he’s looking for assistant coaches with strong character who are teachers first.

“We’re looking for energetic, smart, tough, men who are great instructors,” Caldwell told “Also challenge the guys around them to do the same as well. That’s the big thing, discipline and great instructors are key.”

He and Austin worked together at Penn State when Austin was a graduate assistant, again at Wake Forest and the last two seasons with the Ravens.

The signing of Austin seems to be good news for a Lions secondary that hasn’t been ranked higher than 14th in pass defense in any of the previous five seasons, despite consistently having one of the top defensive lines in the NFL.

Austin does have some coordinator experience as he spent the 2010 season as the University of Florida’s defensive coordinator.

He replaces Gunther Cunningham, who had a year left on his contract.