It's been a pretty wild offseason for Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. He spent the first part of the offseason interviewing for numerous head coaching jobs, and he even became a finalist in Atlanta. Austin ultimately ended up staying in Detroit, and the next part of the offseason saw his top defensive tackles depart in free agency.
With Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley out of the picture, Austin will now have to get used to seeing Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker lined up at defensive tackle. He is well aware that this will be a different look than usual, but his expectations for the defense are still extremely high.
Austin on his defense: "We'll look different in the middle but the objective will be the same. We plan to be better next year."— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) April 1, 2015
It will be quite difficult to improve after losing a player like Suh. Then again, Austin showed last year that he can put together excellent game plan after excellent game plan even without his top players. In 2014, for example, the Lions lost Stephen Tulloch to a season-ending injury, and they also lost multiple cornerbacks. Add in Nick Fairley's season-ending injury and a lot of backups saw playing time en route to the Lions having one of the NFL's top defenses.
This year, with the loss of Suh and Fairley, there has been a lot of talk about the Lions potentially shifting to a 3-4 base defense. Jim Caldwell has already shut down that possibility, but Austin did say that there will continue to be plenty of variation with the Lions' defensive scheme.
#Lions town hall over. Austin says defense will be multiple this season including 4 and 3 man fronts.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) April 1, 2015
In other words, the Lions may continue to utilize the 4-3 as their base defense, but we should expect to see some 3-4 looks every once in a while. The Lions will also likely continue to heavily utilize their nickel package, and they could even mix things up from that look as well.