Lions defense has edge in mystery for now

The advantage will disappear as the weeks go by, as the Detroit Lions play more games and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin starts to unload more of his schemes and playbook.

Right now, though, heading into the opener, Austin has as much of an advantage as he would a disadvantage since he’s never called NFL plays before.

Simply, it’s because he’s never called NFL plays before.

Yes, there are four preseason games for the New York Giants to study. There’s games from the last two seasons, when he was Baltimore’s secondary coach, since there figures to be things Eli Manning could read about how Austin used his defensive backs.

And there’s the one season in 2010 at the University of Florida when Austin called his own plays.

Yet there is still an element of mystery of what the Giants -- and everyone else -- will see Monday night.

“It’s always going to be an issue when you, in fact, don’t have a lot to go by,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “You pick your spots in the preseason games and study basically when the [starters] are in there or notice anything different or unusual in a pressure or a coverage or an adjustment to a coverage.

“But other than that, we’ve got to go play and play our game and be prepared to adjust no matter what happens.”

Coughlin said the Giants have gone back “as far as we should go” to try and decipher what Austin may have his defense do in 2014. The Giants have also looked at last season’s Detroit games, which is typical to try and get a feel for the players they’ll face, even if the scheme could look different.

“They could possibly come with a little bit more pressure and bring some different looks than Detroit’s done in the past,” Manning said. “We’ll have to see on [Monday] what their plan is and what they’ll be showing.”

From what Austin has shown and said so far, it is fair to expect more blitzing from the Lions’ linebackers than last season, when the team blitzed 19.6 percent of the time, third-lowest in the NFL. Expect some multiplicity, too, as the Lions have done everything from a base 4-3 defense to a 4-4 to the typical nickel and specialty defenses in the preseason.

Also expect a lot of attention on defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who can create havoc for an opposing offense if left in single blocking coverage. The offensive line has been an issue for the Giants in 2013 and so far in 2014 as well.

“They are a very, very good defensive front,” Coughlin said. “They are aggressive. They are penetrators. They are powerful.

“So they cause certainly significant problems as you prepare.”