Dec 22, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions outside linebacker DeAndre Levy (54) celebrates after making a play during the second quarter against the New York Giants at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

DeAndre Levy Should Excel in New Defensive System

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DeAndre Levy had his coming out party in 2013, but he should be able to put his name on the national map in Teryl Austin’s new hybrid defensive scheme. In the Detroit Lions new defensive scheme, Levy will be asked to play a more traditional WILL, or weak side, linebacker position rather than simply being regulated to a particular side of the field.

So, as a general rule,  he’ll line up on the open side of the field, across from the side of the offense that has the least amount players. Often times you’ll see him lined up on the side of the field with the slot receiver.

4-3 Weak Side Linebacker

A base 4-3 defense against a three wide receiver set

DeAndre Levy’s New Role

As with all positions on the field there are certain prototypes that teams look for when filling a role. Traditionally, a team’s weak side linebacker is going to be the teams most athletic linebacker whose main responsibility is to pursue the football in the run game and make plays in coverage. In essence, the WILL’s job is to be around the football.

“I try to just focus on my coverage, being where I need to be and trust my instincts a little bit,” Levy said. “Some of those (interceptions) I got just by being around the ball. That’s something I always try to focus on that the last couple years in practice. I want to be around the ball to capitalize on opportunities.”

 I want to be around the ball to capitalize on opportunities. – DeAndre Levy

DeAndre Levy has put in the work since entering the NFL, and last year he finally he finally began to reap the benefits. While rookie linebacker Kyle Van Noy seems to be a tailor-made fit for the defense as a rush linebacker, Levy’s athleticism and instincts make him a perfect fit for the Lions on the weak side.

One of the things I think you find out about that particular position (weak side linebacker) is that if you give a good athlete range, area to work in and a little bit of freedom there, they can make plays for you,” coach Jim Caldwell said.

Even Better Things to Come in 2014?

When you watch his tape and take a look at his stats, it’s easy to see why DeAndre Levy’s play should continue to trend upward.

Last season Levy was one the NFL’s top rated 4-3 outside linebackers. According to Pro Football Focus he was the fifth rated linebacker of those who played at least 50% of their team’s defensive snaps. DeAndre Levy also had the best allowed QB Rating amongst linebackers, allowing opposing quarterbacks only a 30.7 rating while he was the primary man in coverage.

His run defense wasn’t stellar, but his main role going forward will focus more on being the “coverage linebacker” for that unit going forward.

Quotes via Mlive.com

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