Martin Mayhew: Record, free agency will result in significant roster changes on defense

Posted Jan 3, 2013

Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew seemed to indicate Wednesday that the bulk of the team's changes would be coming on the defensive side of the ball.

Roster changes are coming, make no mistake about it.

Coming off a 4-12 season with 22 unrestricted free agents, those changes are both a necessity and reality.

Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew seemed to indicate that the bulk of those changes would be coming on the defensive side of the ball.

Mayhew pointed to the Lions' minus-16 turnover ratio as one of the big reasons for their 4-12 record. Simply put, Mayhew said there aren't enough "impact" players on the defensive side of the ball.

"We need guys that can impact the game," he said. "We've got a lot of guys that are good guys, they line up right, they know what their job is, but they don't impact the game.

"We need interceptors, we need guys that sack the quarterback, we need guys that cause fumbles, guys that make plays on third down. Those are the kind of guys that can change the game for us."

During their 10-win season in 2011, the Lions defense had 34 takeaways (21 interception, 13 fumbles) and scored seven times on defense. This year, they had just 17 takeaways (11 interceptions, six fumbles) and didn't score once on defense.

"(We) have to get guys that make plays," Mayhew said. "Some guys just make plays. The ball just finds certain guys. We have to get some of those guys that the ball finds."

"A great example of that was (former cornerback) Dre Bly when Dre was here. Dre was just an interception magnet. A fumble on the ground, guess who got it? Dre got it. There are guys out there who are like that."

The Lions will have every opportunity to find a few of them with eight free-agent starters on defense. Expect the turnover to be fairly significant on that side of the ball.

Mayhew said defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was the only player on defense who he though played "noticeably better" than in 2011, though he said injuries were a contributing factor.

He made the point that his expected secondary heading into the season - Chris Houston, Bill Bentley, Jacob Lacey, Louis Delmas and Amari Spievey - played just one game together.

"Some guys flat lined and some guys were injured and didn't play or didn't play as well," he said. "We didn't get the performances.

"From my standpoint, it's just about acquiring good players and the way that we've handled it in the past and we will continue to handle it is we use every avenue that's available to us, whether it's free agency, the draft, waiver claims, trades.

"We need good players. It doesn't really matter how we get them from my standpoint. But we need good players and we need impact players, especially on the back end of the defense."