The Detroit Lions could learn a thing or two from the Seattle Seahawks, their NFC Champion brethren from the northwest. The Seahawks have built a tough defense revolving mostly around the aggressiveness of their secondary, and that's what Detroit needs to shoot for as they attempt to renovate the group again.
Against the San Francisco 49ers, the Seahawks showed why they should hold the new blueprint as it relates to putting together a secondary. With tough, hard hitting players who have size, strength and speed going for them, the Seahawks are tough to throw on down the field and are downright intimidating to teams, considering their ability to force turnovers and punish the opposition. In a passing league, that's important. How successful will such an approach be?
Last week, Detroit hired secondary coach Teryl Austin to be their new defensive coordinator. Fortunately, Austin himself has experience creating such ball hawking, hard hitting secondaries capable of changing the game with one big hit or explosive play. Detroit will need Austin's expertise to shine through this offseason for them as it relates to finding such players and coaching up the ones already on the Lions' roster.
What makes Seattle's group special is the fact that outside of Walter Thurmond (5-11) and Earl Thomas (5-10) size does matter to the Seahawks. Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman are each an imposing 6-3, Jeremy Lane is 6-0 and Byron Maxwell is 6-1. All of these players are interchangeable, and all are conditioned to play tough, physical football.
Detroit needs to get tougher on the back level mentally and physically. Up front and at linebacker, the Lions have enough beef and toughness to shut down opposing rushing attacks and rush the passer. The secondary is where they're most needy, and more than anything, they need a new mindset. The corners and safties need to be conditioned to play with an edge and play confident. More than anything, they need more size and toughness. Louis Delmas is an extremely poor man's version of Chancellor. Outside, the Lions don't have anyone like Sherman, physically or mentally.
In the NFC North, the Chicago Bears have created a fearsome wide receiver duo with Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. The Green Bay Packers have Aaron Rodgers, who can make any receiver look like the best. If the Minnesota Vikings ever manage to find a quarterback, they could be on the way with Cordarrelle Patterson. Detroit needs to get bigger, more aggressive and find an edge similar to the Seahawks in their secondary. They need to find their version of Sherman at cornerback, and get a mental adjustment to play with more confidence and more of an edge. The defensive line already has that, and now, the defensive backfield must find it as well for Detroit's defensive identity to take off.
Fortunately, the Lions have the ability to watch the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, and perhaps have the right man in charge in Austin to create a change. Toughness should not only be found up front, but should be strived for throughout the defense, especially in the secondary.
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