Throughout the offseason, Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has indicated that we should expect a more aggressive approach from the team's defense this year. The Lions' new scheme is set up to allow for more aggressive play with multiple fronts being utilized and more blitzing taking place, and the secondary is expected to play more press coverage and go for more interceptions. If all goes according to plan, the Lions will generate a lot of turnovers and a lot of sacks in 2014.
Generally speaking, creating more negative plays for opposing offenses should lead to more wins, but it's important to remember the potential downside to this aggressive mindset: giving up big plays. The Lions struggled in that department last year, and constantly going for interceptions and bringing lots of pressure could actually lead to an increase in big plays. Austin is well aware of this, though, and he's focused on keeping those "explosion" plays to a minimum. From the Lions' official site:
"I think the way you become a game-changing defense is you cut down on the amount of big plays because those are demoralizing to your defense," defensive coordinator Teryl Austin admitted. "You try to create some more turnovers. I know that’s an area that we weren’t as good as we want to be." [...]
"I would hope we’re aggressive, smart and that we’re defensively going to make some plays on the ball, but keep the ball in front of us," he said. "Not let the ball get out in the run or the pass. I know it’s going to happen because it’s the NFL, but cut those things down and keep them to a minimum."
It will be interesting to see what kind of effect this new scheme and attitude has on Detroit's defense. I know there are concerns over the talent level in the secondary, but if the front seven generates more pressure, that should put the defensive backs in a position to make more plays. Similarly, if the secondary is able to keep opposing players covered just a little bit longer by being more aggressive, the front seven could have more chances to take down the opposing quarterback. It's really a give and take on defense, and at least in theory, the changes the Lions have made sound quite promising.