Lions plan on mixing things up along defensive line

Posted Jun 24, 2012

It’s no secret the Lions have one of the better defensive lines in the NFL. The unit has amassed 74 sacks over the last two years, which ranks among the best in the NFL.

But no matter how good a unit is in the NFL, it can always be neutralized with a good scheme if it lets itself become stagnant.

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz recently used a baseball analogy when talking about his defensive line. He said it’s just like a great pitcher with a terrific fastball. That pitcher has to throw a changeup or curveball every now and again, or hitters will eventually catch up to the fastball.

The Lions plan to throw a few more curveballs this season by moving some players around on their defensive line and possibly introducing some new packages.

“We haven’t moved our defensive tackles around a ton … but it can just help some matchups here and there,” Schwartz said. “I think that can help us. We’re an excellent fastball team, but every once in a while a curveball in the dirt doesn’t hurt.”

Expect the Lions to move defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh around a little more than they have in previous seasons. Suh has predominantly played left defensive tackle, but has been playing a more right than he ever has this offseason.

There have even been times this offseason when Suh has lined up at defensive end in certain packages.

The Giants have arguably the best defensive line in the NFL. Over the last few years, they've utilized specific players’ unique skill sets in a variety of different ways. The Giants had a lot of success last year putting four defensive ends in the game on passing situations in a formation they called “NASCAR.”

The Lions showcased their own specialized package this offseason that featured four defensive tackles in the game at the same time with Suh and Nick Fairley on the outside with Corey Williams and Sammie Hill inside. One could call it the “DIESEL” package. It seems tailor-made for short-yardage situations.

Whether the Lions deploy this package is yet to be seen. They do plan to mix things up along their defensive line this season though, and it's one of those curveballs that could go a long way to helping the defense.