Lions 'D' Ready To Dismantle Cutler, Bears

Detroit's secondary is considered a significant reason of concern entering Sunday's tilt at Chicago. Unless you ask them, of course. Notes and quotes inside as Lions defense prepares for Cutler-led Chicago.

It looks like this on paper: The Bears, featuring offensive coordinator Mike Martz's aerial circus, against the Detroit Lions, easily the worst pass defense in the league a year ago.

Advantage Bears, right?

The Lions aren't seeing it that way. They have beefed up their defensive line, first of all. Adding the likes of defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch and No. 2 overall pick defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, gives the Lions a legitimate pass rushing front four for the first time in years.

With quarterback Jay Cutler likely to be taking lots of five- and seven-step drops, as per the norm in Martz's offense, the Lions figure they will be able to wreak some havoc.

"The ball's going to be in the air a lot, but that just gives our defensive line a field day putting pressure on the quarterback," said cornerback Chris Houston. "And for us on the back end, we've got to make plays; and that's something we will do."

You wonder about that. The Lions are smartly disassociating themselves from last year's defense that allowed an opponent passer rating of 107 and a 68.1 percent completion rate. Only one player from last year's secondary -- safety Louis Delmas -- is back.

There are three new starters in cornerbacks Houston and Wade and safety C.C. Brown.

In fact, the Lions will have eight defensive starters different than those that started in the first game of the 2009 season.

"I mean, for good reason," admitted Schwartz. "I think that what you saw is us build around a couple young players: Louis Delmas (and) DeAndre Levy. You saw us go out and retool the defensive line -- draft Ndamukong Suh high, and trade for Corey Williams, and bring in Kyle Vanden Bosch. You know, there needed to be turnover."

Still, there are issues. Houston and Wade were castoffs. Brown is playing for his third team in three years. The backup corners are an undrafted rookie (Aaron Berry) and a former second-round pick that flamed out in Denver (Alphonso Smith).

The backups at safety are another undrafted rookie (Randy Phillips), a third-round pick who was converted from cornerback (Amari Spievey) and a four-year vet who wasn't signed until Aug. 27 (John Wendling).

Delmas missed most of the preseason with a groin injury. Brown is playing with a fractured forearm. Wade is playing with a broken finger. The four starters haven't played a down together the entire preseason, yet the Lions insist the unit has been upgraded.

"I don't know if I have the same level of concern as you or some other people seem to," head coach Jim Schwartz said. "I think if you were to go position-by-position from last year, we've upgraded there. The question is how much have we upgraded and where does that take us? It doesn't take a whole lot to upgrade from where we were at last year."

True. You can only go up from dead last.

"You all (the media) are taking shots at us because we're so young, or however you want to classify it," said Brown. "But this is the first group I've been around that's jelled this fast. For this being the first year everybody has been together, we are an explosive group."

We shall see.


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