LIONS INSIDER

Teryl Austin: 'I’m planning on (Suh) being back'

Posted Feb 13, 2015

The thought of losing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in free agency hasn't even crossed defensive coordinator Teryl Austin's mind.

Teryl Austin has been back to work for a second season as the Detroit Lions’ defensive coordinator for a number of weeks now after interviewing for head coaching jobs in Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago and Buffalo earlier this offseason.

Austin told detroitlions.com that he enjoyed the experience of interviewing for those jobs, but is now focused on keeping the Lions defense one of the best units in the NFL.

Austin and his defensive staff have been meeting and preparing for next week’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, and Austin is looking forward to that process.

Most of the headlines surrounding Austin’s defense so far this offseason though, have centered around whether or not he’ll have All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as his centerpiece. Suh is an unrestricted free agent and the Lions have made signing him to a long-term deal their No. 1 priority this offseason.

Ndamukong SuhNdamukong Suh (Photo: Gavin Smith / Detroit Lions)

Suh earned his fourth-career First Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl nods, respectively, following a dominant 2014 season in which he led the Lions in both sacks with 8.5 and a career-high 21 tackles for loss.

Losing a dominant force like that could certainly have an effect on Austin’s defense, but he says he’s not worried about losing the big man.

“It hasn’t crossed my mind,” Austin told detroitlions.com. “I’m planning on him being back.”

Austin echoed comments made by Lions team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew this offseason. Both expressed confidence that Suh would be a Lion in 2015.

If a long-term deal can’t be agreed upon, the Lions still have the option of placing the franchise tag on Suh (at a price of $26.9 million) to make sure he stays in Detroit at least another season.

Austin, more than anyone, knows what not having Suh would mean to his defense.

“I think anytime you have a great player, he impacts your defense in a positive way,” Austin said. “I mean that’s what he is. You can’t get around it. You can sugar coat it or say whatever you want, but he’s a great player. He changes the game.”

Austin said the easiest way to come to that conclusion is to pop in the game film and watch how teams game plan for Suh. Just like defenses have to account for Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, Austin says the same goes for opposing offenses with Suh, and that makes everyone on defense better.

“To me, that’s when you know you have a great player,” Austin said. “When they have to make sure they stop you. Just like we’ll play some great players on the other side of the ball and we better know who they are and we better be able to stop them.”

Austin’s focus this offseason is to continue to mold and find good players for his defense, and he’s expecting those pieces to complement No. 90 in Detroit next season.