In the midst of teaching their defense a radical scheme change, the Detroit Lions are getting some much-needed help from their newest player.
This offseason, the Detroit Lions added a critical piece to help their defense. That being new head coach Matt Patricia. The longtime New England Patriots defensive coordinator, who helped the Pats appear in three Super Bowls since 2014, joined Detroit this offseason to try and help the Lions get over the playoff hump.
In order to do so, Patricia has brought over his complicated defensive playbook that has kept opposing offenses confused for years. In order to help educate his new team, the 43-year old head coach brought several new members of the coaching staff and former players.
The defensive scheme in the Motor City is a new multiple system, which requires players who possess position-flex as the formations can change between the standard 4-3, to the 3-4 and several other coverages at a moment’s notice.
So not only did Patricia bring in his own defensive coordinator in Paul Pasqualoni, but the Lions have added former Patriots defenders like linebackers Jonathan Freeny and Trevor Bates who are already very familiar with the scheme.
One area of the Lions’ defense which many were concerned about prior to the start of training camp was at defensive tackle. Losing Haloti Ngata and Akeem Spence over the offseason put a lot of pressure on third-year defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson to live up to his second-round draft status.
Fortunately, the Lions were able to secure the position this past week by signing nine-year veteran defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois to a one-year deal. The 31-year old is a strong run defender who played for New England towards the end of last season, even starting for the Pats in their Conference Championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. His presence along the interior of the Lions defensive line gives them a valuable veteran presence.
Another reason the Lions signed Jean-Francois was due to his familiarity with Patricia’s complicated defensive scheme. In fact, the veteran told the Detroit Free Press that he has already begun spreading his knowledge to his new teammates.
"“Everybody, from coaches to players, just picking my brain. And it’s good to be able to help them out because to see them be able to do it on the field, it looks a lot easier, it looks a lot cleaner. And they even surprised themselves.”"
When it comes to the Detroit Lions defensive success in 2018, quickly learning and being able to implement Matt Patricia’s scheme will be critical. With former players like Ricky Jean-Francois on the roster, the Lions are certainly hoping to shorten that learning curve.