Detroit Lions sticking with a multiple 4-3 defense

The Detroit Lions lost their two starting defensive tackles to free agency in the past month. In their place, they signed two other defensive tackles who have played in a multiple system.

Despite the personnel shift, Lions coach Jim Caldwell said nothing is going to change with their defense from a schematic standpoint. So that means the team will continue to be based in a 4-3 world.

“We were extremely multiple,” Caldwell told reporters at the owners meetings Wednesday. “We did a little bit of everything, and I think you’ll see the same thing happen this fall.”

When asked specifically if the team will remain in a 4-3 defense like what the franchise ran with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in the middle, Caldwell said that “nothing’s going to change.”

The goal for Detroit, though, is to throw so many different options at an opposing offense that to prepare for them all would be extremely difficult. This leads to more unpredictability and, potentially, better opportunities for bigger plays by the defense.

“We’re going to give you a number of different looks that you’re going to have to block in terms of pass protection," Caldwell said, "and we’re going to give you a number of different looks if you decide to run the ball.

“To be able to run, you can’t always determine exactly where we’re going to be, and that’s the true value of being multiple. Some teams are not able to be multiple because of how their personnel is sort of developed and based. Ours, we have some multiplicity.”

That has been a key for the Lions with a lot of their recent moves. Both Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker can line up in various places. Defensive ends Jason Jones, Devin Taylor and Darryl Tapp have either played or worked inside at tackle.

What might not change schematically, though, will shift in personnel. Ngata and Walker replace Suh and Fairley, and Caldwell is convinced Ngata was the best possible solution to the hole the Lions had in replacing Suh.

Part of that has to do with their prior knowledge of Ngata. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin worked with Ngata during his time in Baltimore, as did Caldwell.

“I think you’re going to find him to be very, very capable at what he does,” Caldwell said. “Excellent. He and also Tyrunn Walker, I think those two guys will give us a real unusual combination.”


“It’s not going to be a normal pair,” Caldwell said. “I think [Walker] is going to give you some things that maybe you haven’t seen in a little while, the combination of the two. Particularly because of Walker’s versatility all across the board.

“Haloti, all you have to do is look at film of him. Just take a look.”

Over the next few months, anyone who follows the Lions will be looking. Closely. The success of both players will have a large impact on how the Lions end up overall this season.