Teryl Austin to put a huge emphasis on turnovers

Posted Feb 18, 2014

The Lions were 5-2 compared with 2-7 when generating two or more takeaways in a game

Glover QuinGlover Quin (AP Images)
The Detroit Lions did some good things on defense this past year. The unit was No. 1 in the NFL on third down (30.3 percent), were tops in goal to go defense (45.5 percent) and it ranked second in red zone touchdown percentage at 30.4 percent.

That same defense is also guilty of being not so good in a number of other areas. It gave up the most points (187) outside of the red zone, allowed the most rushing plays of 50-plus yards (5), ranked 28th in the league with only 33 sacks, and forced just 22 turnovers, which was in the bottom third of the league.

Of all those statistics, the turnovers are particularly important in today's NFL. Teams that won the turnover battle were victorious 81 percent of the time in 2013.

When the Lions had two or more takeaways in a game this past season they were 5-2. When they had one or fewer they were 2-7.

With the NFL Combine kicking off this week and the NFL Draft less than three months away, new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is on the lookout for playmakers. Players who have a knack for the football and can play the ball.

Austin says he's putting a new emphasis on turnovers and it'll be preached every day his defense hits the practice field.

"I know with my guys in the secondary in particular, the way we did it was if a receiver catches a ball we always go for the strip," said Austin, who was the secondary coach in Baltimore the last three seasons. "If a running back comes through, we're always trying to poke the ball out.

"If the ball's in the air, if we have an opportunity to intercept it without colliding and hurting our own player, we always try to make the catch. We don't like to go for pass break-ups in practice. I always tell my guys to go for the interception now so you learn how to do it so when you get in the game it's not the first time you've tried."

When the Lions defense had two or more interceptions in a game in 2013 they were 3-0. They were 4-9 in games they had one or fewer.

The secondary recorded just eight interceptions in 16 games in 2013 and three of those came from safety Louis Delmas, who is no longer on the roster. Veteran Chris Houston was the only cornerback to record an interception (2).

Glover Quin was the only member of the secondary to force a fumble this past year.

"That was my emphasis and I'm sure that our defensive line, our linebackers, we all had the same type of emphasis in different ways," Austin said. "We'll do the same thing here.

"I think it's something that is born out in practice. You don't just go to the game and say, 'Okay, I'm going to go intercept that ball now.' Well, you have to practice it just like every other thing you do. So, we'll practice that, we'll work it and hopefully the results will show this year."