Lions stressing communication in new defense

Posted May 4, 2014

The defensive scheme Teryl Austin brings to the Lions is more aggressive and significantly values communication amongst players.

The Detroit Lions continue the implantation of their new offensive and defensive schemes during Phase II of the offseason training program.

A couple things have already stood out to players when it comes to Teryl Austin’s defense. One, it’s entirely different than the one they played in under Jim Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham; It’s more aggressive.

Teryl AustinDefensive Coordinator Teryl Austin (Photo: Detroit Lions)

Two, it significantly values communication amongst players.

“It’s a different defense, totally,” cornerback Rashean Mathis told this week. “It’s different in a good way. Communication has to be a huge part of it. That’s something Glover (Quin) and I were actually trying to get done last year, because it makes everyone’s job a little easier. You know what you’re doing and you trust the guy next to you because he’s talking to you.”

Both Mathis and Quin should benefit from the signing of strong safety James Ihedigbo this offseason. Not only is Ihedigbo familiar with Austin’s scheme, having played under him in Baltimore the last two seasons, but he’s also a player who’s been available throughout his career, both in games and practice. He’s played in all 16 games each of the last three seasons.

Ihedigbo replaces Louis Delmas – now with Miami --who was unable to participate in any substantial practice time last year because of his knee issues. Quin said last year that was difficult at times.

Practice is when that communication between players is fine-tuned. It’s when guys learn the players next to them, in front of them and behind them.

“Trust is everything in this game,” Mathis said. “We’re not playing golf and we’re not playing tennis. We have to trust the man next to us. We’re not just relying on ourselves. The confidence in knowing that everyone knows their job just allows you to play faster. That’s huge.”

Linebacker Stephen Tulloch says all three phases of the defense have to be communicating and on the same page.

“It’s fast tempo,” Tulloch said. “A lot of communication. We’re going to do some fun things.”

Austin wants a defense that has multiple looks, keeps everything in front of it and pressures from multiple spots on the field.

"We’re going to be multiple, bring some pressure, deal with a four-man rush and hopefully they don’t know which way we’re coming," Austin said earlier this offseason. "The thing that I’ve learned is that a lot of times when offenses have a hard time Id’ing where you’re coming from they have a hard time blocking.

"We’ll try to do some things and give them some different looks and try to put our players in the best position to make plays. At the end of the day that’s really it. You want to put your guys in the best position to make plays."

The only way the Lions will accomplish that is if everyone is on the same page.