Detroit Lions: New defender talks confusing defensive scheme

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 01: Outside linebacker Devon Kennard
LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 01: Outside linebacker Devon Kennard /

The Detroit Lions will be running a very complex defensive scheme in the Motor City this season. But for a new player, it’s all finally starting to make sense.

One of the reasons the Detroit Lions hired Matt Patricia this offseason as their newest head coach was because of his defensive prowess.

Along with legendary head coach Bill Belichick, Patricia helped create a complex and opponent-confusing defensive scheme that help the New England Patroits make the postseason for six straight seasons while he was defensive coordinator.

The Patriots also went to three Super Bowls in that same span, winning two of them. The 43-year old brings both that championship pedigree and his ultra-successful defensive scheme to the Lions this season.

In order to make the transition as smooth as possible, Patricia and this front office made sweeping changes to both the coaching staff and the roster in Detroit. One of those new faces is former New York Giants linebacker Devon Kennard.

The 26-year old Kennard was the Lions’ price catch in free agency this offseason, inking a three-year, $18.75 million contract in March. The four-year veteran figures to play an integral role on Detroit’s linebacker corps this year as a starter alongside 2017 first round selection Jarrad Davis.

For Kennard, his time in Detroit this offseason has been very educational. Learning Patricia’s confusing defensive scheme firsthand as someone who once had to face it as an opponent has been eye-opening. Kennard is now discovering the method behind the once-perceived madness.

"“Just who’s coming and why they’re lined up certain places, and it seems like guys were moved around all over the place when you watch old New England film,” Kennard told the Detroit Free Press this week. “You’re watching film and you’re like, ‘Why is he here? Why is he there?’ And there’s a system of it and starting to understand that and it’s like, ‘Oh, Okay. Now I get it.’”"

Expect to see a lot of similarly confused looks from opposing offenses this season in Detroit. The Lions new defense should vacillate wildly between the 4-3, 3-4 and various coverages in an attempt to perfectly match their opponents. It’s the reason many called Patricia a mad scientist.

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In the Detroit Lions, Matt Patricia has inherited a very talented cast of individual defenders. Likely a better level of talent than he ever had in New England. But it’s unknown how well his defensive scheme will translate without Bill Belichick sitting over his shoulder and if Detroit has the proper personnel to be so versatile. That’s why fans should be watching closely this summer to see if this Lions’ defense is able to make that transition smoothly and quickly.