Things are going to look a lot different on defense this year for the Detroit Lions and that includes how defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is going to use his defensive line.
The Lions front four has been the strength of this defense for a number of years now, but Austin plans to get creative with how he uses Ndamukong Suh,
“We’re going to have a lot of fun going against offenses and our defensive line play is going to be very similar but at the same time very different,” Suh recently told the NFL Network’s NFL Total Access. “That will be for those offensive lines to figure out; not going to give any secrets away right now but we’re going to have some fun out there.”
The Lions plan to move a lot of their pieces around to keep offenses guessing. Gone are the days where Ansah is always on the right side and always in the nine technique.
He told detroitlions.com last month he was looking forward to an expanded role that will move him around quite a bit and ask him to do different things.
“I like the changes we have now,” Ansah said. “I don’t always have to be on the right side. I can get up and move around and drop into coverage. I think (Austin) is a great coach and going to bring a lot to the team.”
It’s the same sentiment Suh has of his new defensive boss.
“It definitely won’t be staying the same for us as a defensive line,” Suh said. “Coach Teryl Austin is a great guy. I’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him during minicamp. Enjoy him, he’s a very smart, sharp gentleman. I see exactly why he’s our (defensive coordinator).
It’s Austin’s task to maximize the talent he’s inherited upfront. The Lions’ sack totals have dropped in each of the last four seasons from 44 in 2010 to 41 in 2011, 34 in 2012 and 33 last season.
Some of that can be attributed to how offenses attack the Lions with quick passes and max protections, but Austin plans to apply pressure from all over the field and play man coverage behind it, with Suh, Fairley, Ansah and the rest of the defensive line being the tip of the sword.
On if agrees with Lions safety
“Yeah, I without question agree. We have an opportunity to have a great group of guys that we have in the office. The front office did a great job of bringing in extra talent and talent that can for sure step on the field and help us.
'We have a lot of young guys that are starting to get into their prime, including myself, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity. Great coaching staff. Coach [Jim] Caldwell, excited about having him be the head coach. It should be a big year for us.”
On if he can pinpoint anything the Lions need to do to win the NFC North:
“Yeah, without question I can pinpoint something. I think ideally it comes down to being perfectionists and being very conscious of what we need to complete and really just pay attention to detail. That’s something that we didn’t have last year and that’s why we let the league and our division slip out of our hands.
"Obviously that door got closed on us against the New York Giants getting into the playoffs when we saw that we couldn’t win the division. I’m looking forward to Monday Night Football without question, that first game of the season.”
On if the criticism he has received for training on his own rather than attending voluntary workouts is fair this year given the Lions have a new coaching staff:
“I wouldn’t say so. I would say I would consider myself getting in great shape – elite shape – to come back and go through the most critical standpoints of our offseason, which is OTAs and minicamp. Honestly, like coach (Jim) Caldwell said many times, we’ve been in constant communication as well as with the defensive line coaches and coach (Teryl) Austin our (defensive coordinator).
"So I think with this day and age with technology and the ability to do anything from anywhere in this world, it’s not that big of a deal because I made great adjustments. And even being a leader, we didn’t pick our unity council and our captains as of yet but our unity council wasn’t even picked until I believe right before our minicamp.
"So it’s still very open and the biggest part of the year for us outside of OTAs and minicamp is camp. That’s what we’re getting ready to go into.”
On the type of culture head coach Jim Caldwell is instilling:
“He’s creating a great culture, one that’s very transparent and I think that’s going to be huge for us. Always understanding what we need to do and what to expect of us as gentlemen and professionals.
"That’s exactly the way I love it and that’s the way coach Bo Pelini at Nebraska treated us, as gentlemen. We had great success there and hopefully continue that on here at the Lions with coach Caldwell.