Much has been made about the Detroit Lions and their changing scheme on defense. While the 3-4 vs. 4-3 stuff has likely been overhyped by the media—as the coaching staff continues to emphasize—the other philosophical change could be just as impactful, if not more.
The Lions will now have a more attacking defensive front. On Thursday, head coach Dan Campbell gave a nice explanation of what exactly that means.
“I just call it much more ‘Hitting the blocks,’” Campbell said. “I don’t want to say we were catching (blocks), and it wasn’t two-gap, we just were a little more, ‘Play at the line of scrimmage,’ where now we really want to play more on their side of the line of scrimmage. That’s the best way to describe it. Look, we still have all the front variations, all those things, but I think that will probably be the biggest difference that anybody would notice, is just the fact that we want to—we’re not just running through gaps and closing our eyes and stuff like that. We’re not like that, but we are much more, ‘Hit the blocks and play on their side of the line of scrimmage,’ which is a little bit different than what we were last year.”
The reasoning for that change, the coaching staff says, is to play to the strength of their players. Specifically, defensive linemen like Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike, who have lethal, attacking first steps, will be much more effective than they were in their rookie seasons.
Of course, this move isn’t going to benefit everyone. That’s just the nature of schematic changes. Some players will be left behind, some will benefit, and some are so versatile that it doesn’t even matter what scheme they’re placed in.
In this week’s Spotify Live Q&A—where we answer your call-in questions live—we tackle which players will benefit most from these defensive changes, and which players may struggle to adjust.
Other topics this week include:
- Should we be concerned that the Lions will be too good and therefore struggle to find their next franchise quarterback?
- More Aidan Hutchinson hype
- Which linebacker could emerge from the “bloodbath” competition?
- Which NFL team will the Lions' offense most resemble this season?
- How can the Lions get 2018 Jared Goff back?
Myself, Erik Schlitt and Ryan Mathews attempt to answer all of these questions in this week’s episode: