The Detroit Lions hired Teryl Austin as their defensive coordinator during their complete coaching overhaul in 2014. The hire was a bit of a risk, as Austin had never been a defensive coordinator in the NFL and had only held the title for one year at the collegiate level. Austin was one of those names listed as an up-and-comer, but those names fade away as often as they meet expectations.
By the end of his first season as defensive coordinator, the Lions knew they had made the right choice in Austin. The defense went from the No. 15 scoring defense all the way to No. 2 in just one season under Austin. Perhaps one of Austin’s best perceived talents was getting the best performances possible from young players. DeAndre Levy enjoyed a breakout year in 2014. Tahir Whitehead came in and admirably replaced an injured Stephen Tulloch.
Now another young player is in awe of the job Austin does as defensive coordinator. Lions fourth-round draft pick Miles Killebrew joined Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on the radio on Monday and showered his coach with praise. "Coach TA is a genius when it comes to the depth of his defense. It’s amazing," Killebrew said on the SiriusXM show.
Killebrew comes from a small school in Southern Utah that ran a simple defensive scheme, and he admits as much in the interview. But Killebrew still recognizes that Austin’s talent goes beyond the normal transition between college and pro level talent. "That’s still coach TA’s goal is to make it so that it’s simple to us, but there’s just so many calls that I’m getting used to," Killebrew said. "It’s exciting."
Killebrew may have to gain all the knowledge he can from Austin in 2016, because the promising coordinator has become a hot candidate to be a new head coach. This offseason, Austin interviewed for four different head coaching vacancies, two of which he considered very serious. That comes just a year after Austin interview for four different coaching jobs after his amazing 2014 season with Detroit. If Austin continues his success with the Lions as defensive coordinator, he will likely find a promotion elsewhere in 2017.