Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
3. Detroit Lions Defense Will Sustain Under Teryl Austin
As I mentioned before, the loss of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh certainly doesn’t help the Lions defense. At the same time however, it’s not the end of the world.
For starters, there is the money saved.
When the Miami Dolphins signed Suh to a six-year, $114 million deal it made the controversial defensive tackle the highest paid defensive player in the NFL. A deal like that would have further handicapped the Lions, whose salary cap struggles have hung over the team like a Matt Millen severance package.
Detroit will still carry a cap hit of roughly $9.7 million for the defensive tackle in 2015, but he will be completely off the Lions books by the 2016 season.
Don’t, get me wrong, losing Suh and Nick Fairly does hurt. They were the nucleus of Detroit’s No. 2 ranked defense in 2014, but there is still key talent in place — and one hell of a coach in Teryl Austin.
Suh and Fairly were replaced by five-time All-Pro Haloti Ngata and little-known Tyrunn Walker, both of whom feel that this years Lions defense can be just as good, if not better than last years.
"“It’s going to be great,” Walker said this week at the Taste of the Lions event at Ford Field. “We’re going to be awesome. I have a good vibe about the group. We have a good coach, a good head coach, great ownership. So I feel great about the move I made.”"
There are also guys like Ziggy Ansah, DeAndre Levy, the returning Stephen Tulloch, Kyle Van Noy, Darius Slay and Glover Quin still on the Lions roster. I look for Ansah, Levy and Quin to continue to build on their success of 2014 and wouldn’t be surprised to see this defense ranked in the top 5 of the NFL once again.
Next: Matthew Stafford: Regression or Progression?