The Detroit Lions have overhauled much of their defensive line, particularly at defensive end. In doing so, they have stocked the roster with more height and length than they have had in the past.
The idea is that the added length allows for a greater impact, particularly when getting all the way to the quarterback is not possible. Whether it is reaching out a long arm to grab a ball carrier or stretching out to swat a pass, the Lions will look to cause havoc in some new ways this season.
Sticking up a paw to bat down a pass isn’t something the Lions have emphasized in recent seasons. That might sound inexplicable but there were some reasons for that decision. Kyle Vanden Bosch explained last season:
“Some of these quarterbacks are so good at pump faking, getting defensive lineman off their feet, and then either scrambling for yardage or buying time,” Vanden Bosch said. “That’s the most frustrating thing, if you feel like you could have gotten a sack if you kept rushing, but you left your feet, tried to bat a ball down, and gave the quarterback an opportunity to extend the play.”
Getting hands up wasn’t previously a coaching point but that has changed. During a pass rush drill on Saturday Jim Washburn repeatedly reminded the defensive linemen to get their hands up.
The drill had the players get around another player holding a blocking pad and put their hands up as they got into the backfield. Both defensive ends and defensive tackles took part.
Add this to your list of things to watch when preseason play begins. If the work pays off we should be seeing the defensive line getting their hands on a lot more footballs this season.