Under new head coach Matt Patricia, the Detroit Lions defense should look very different in 2018. In one word, “dynamic”.
The Detroit Lions defense started fairly strong in 2017. For much of the season, this unit was near the top of the league in takeaways, ending the year with 32, third most in the NFL. But as the season wore on, injuries, inexperience and inconsistent play plagued this defense.
With the expected hire of Matt Patricia, the New England Patroits longtime defensive coordinator, the Lions defense can expect to see a complete scheme change. Which is evidenced by the fact the majority of Detroit’s defensive coaching staff is missing right now, with their replacements expected to be found and/or named following Patricia’s Super Bowl commitments.
Patricia is often referred to as being a “mad scientist”. Meaning someone who is willing to change his defensive schemes wildly from game to game to better defend that week’s opponents. Patricia is also known for being a player’s coach and someone who can field an effective defense without the assistance of superstar players on the field.
But what can Motor City fans expect to see from their defense in 2018? According to one writer, prepare yourself for anything. This unit should be dynamic.
"“The Patriots’ squads under Patricia are hard to define because they change so much from game to game, featuring three-man fronts at times and four-man looks at others,” wrote Danny Kelly for The Ringer.” … Patricia’s earned a reputation for the ability to build a scheme around his players—and we can expect Detroit’s defense to feature a nimble, hybrid system in 2018.”"
In Detroit, Patricia has plenty of defensive talent to work with. First and foremost, the Lions’ new head coach along with Detroit general manager Bob Quinn must decide if they are willing to re-sign free agent defensive end Ziggy Ansah or not. If the choice is the latter, than pass rusher becomes a top priority in the upcoming draft.
Beyond Ansah, the Detroit Lions defense has plenty of up-and-coming players. Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, linebacker Jarrad Davis, safety Glover Quin and defensive end Anthony Zettel make up a nice foundation for Matt Patricia to build upon. Now the question is how long will it take Patricia to insert his scheme and for the Lion players to learn it. We’ll find out soon enough.