As reported by Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Teryl Austin has agreed to become the defensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions. Austin, who has been the Baltimore Ravens secondary coach since 2011, will work alongside Jim Caldwell for the fourth time in their careers. Caldwell brought Austin onto his staff at Wake Forest in 1993 after the two had previously worked together on Joe Paterno’s staff at Penn State.
In his introductory press conference Wednesday afternoon, Caldwell noted that the team will continue to run a 4-3 defense. Having previously coordinated a 4-3 defense at the University of Florida in 2010, Austin’s philosophy is certainly the right fit for the existing personnel on the field.
Lions president Tom Lewand expects the overall defensive scheme to resemble the one ran under Gunther Cunningham, but says there should be some changes in nuances and wants to get those in place soon. Although it looks like Cunningham will no longer remain a member of the Lions, the team has yet to make an official announcement regarding his destiny.
Rapoport first broke the news in a tweet that read; “Teryl Austin’s agreement to be Lions DC is done, per source. He’s interviewing Vance Joseph (Texans) and Bill Sheridan (Bucs) as assistants”.
Both coaches were relieved from their duties as the Houston Texans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers went through coaching changes at season’s end. Joseph was the secondary coach in Houston when Lions safety Glover Quinn was previously a member of the Texans. Sheridan had been the defensive coordinator for Tampa Bay the past two seasons and has nine years of experience as an NFL assistant.
It was crucial for Detroit to hire coaches who carried a similar defensive philosophy as the previous regime. Their front seven is one of the best in the league; the talents of Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Stephen Tulloch, and DeAndre Levy are best suitable in a 4-3 base.
During his time in Baltimore, Austin was credited for the development of defensive backs Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb, and Cary Williams. The Lions’ biggest defensive need is help in the secondary; Darius Slay and Bill Bentley have the chance to grow tremendously under the supervision of Austin.
In 2013 Detroit ranked 23rd in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game and gave up 14 passing plays of at least 40 yards, tied for the fifth most. During Austin’s first year in Baltimore the team ranked fourth in the league against the pass, then 17th in 2012 and 12th in 2013.
While it is not official yet, it looks like Caldwell has found his defensive coordinator in Austin, a coach with the representation of being well-liked by his players.
As the coaching changes continue, read more Lions news, rumors, and opinion on our Detroit Lions team page