Lions first-year defensive coordinator Cory Undlin told reporters Sunday he planned to be on the sidelines on gamedays instead of up in the booth, and he expected to be calling the defensive plays.
Lions head coach Matt Patricia, who called a lot of the defensive signals last season when Paul Pasqualoni was the DC, confirmed when speaking to reporters Monday morning that Undlin would handle those duties.
"Cory has been grinding away," Patricia said. "He's our defensive coordinator. He's been working to understand everything that we're doing defensively and obviously has his input.
"Cory and I have known each other a long time. Certainly without the spring it was obviously going to be interesting to see how training camp went and the operation and all that. He's ready to go; he's ready to call it and do what he's got to do. He's the defensive coordinator."
As head coach, Patricia wants to have input in all three phases of the game. Handing off defensive play-calling duties will allow him to focus more on the offense and any adjustments he thinks the team can make based off what he's seeing from the opposing defense. It will also allow him to have more significant impact in the special teams adjustments. He can walk over to the offensive linemen on the sideline and talk technique and adjustments. He can talk with quarterback Matthew Stafford about what they both are seeing on the field.
"If I want to jump in on offense, special teams or defense, I kind of have that ability at any time, which is always fun," Patricia said. "We're going to be on the sidelines. We're an operation like normal, and we'll go forward from there."
Revamping and improving the personnel on the Lions' defense has been a real focus this offseason after that unit ranked among the worst in the NFL last season in most major statistical categories. They added veterans Desmond Trufant, Jamie Collins Sr., Duron Harmon, Danny Shelton and Nick Williams, all of whom are expected to compete for starting roles.
The Lions' scheme defensively continues to be multiple, and Undlin has had his influences on that side of the ball since coming over from Philadelphia, where he was the defensive backs coach for the Eagles the last five seasons.
"Just in general, philosophy for me as a head coach is to manage the game, and make sure that I'm there for all three phases when questions come up and certainly (when) we're talking through scenarios, situational football as it comes up through the course of the game, penalties, things like that, and then obviously input," Patricia said.
"It's free rein where I get to help and sometimes I see the game a little bit differently from my lens as the head coach as opposed to when you're a coordinator and you're dialed in to that call, that play, the next call or the next situation. Sometimes bigger picture stuff I can help with."