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Justin Vanfulpen - LionsFans.com
The Lions have a new attitude, and it is not only of the offensive side of the ball only -- but defensively as well. When Marty Mornhinweg was hired as head coach, he said that he was going to call the offensive plays this season but he was looking for an experienced guy to run the defense.
So Mornhinweg hired Vince Tobin as defensive coordinator. Tobin's reputation was a guy that liked to attack an offense, and he has been very successful every where he has been at. The Detroit Lions defense will have to get used to this new style of defense from what they ran last year, but it is something that all the players really like, and think that they can be very productive in it.
Something that will change in this year's defense is the role of the linebackers in Tobin's scheme of running the Lions defense. Especially the outside linebackers, Allen Aldridge and Chris Claiborne. Claiborne was second on the team in tackles last season with 125. He also had one interception, two forced fumbles, and 1/2 of a sack last year. Aldridge was fourth of the team in tackles with 84, he also had 2 sacks an interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovered last season. In 2001, they both look to do even more damage making plays and cause the other teams offense trouble.
We have a lot more blitzs then we did in the past. I think it is a more difficult defense, but it is a defense that is going to help in the long run, said outside linebacker Allen Aldridge. It is a different schemes we adjust to formations differently. There is nothing that we cant adjust to, there is nothing we will have a problem with.
He's really coming with it, he's made the linebackers very aggressive, and we love that," said outside linebacker Chris Claiborne. "People don't understand, but we're going to be making a lot of big plays. You look at the corners and defensive line, but when we get into the season, people are going to see that the linebacking group is going to be making great contributions."
One thing that the Lions defense didn't do last season was sack the quarterback. The Lions only had 28 total sacks, meanwhile only 4 other NFL teams had less. The ball club hopes that it can get to the quarterback even more, and look to blitz more than it did last season.
"I like the blitz package," said Aldridge. "We are probably going to get to the quarterback a lot more then we did last year."
"That's part of our package," Vince Tobin said. "You've got to be able to zone blitz and man blitz and rush four men. If you face an offense that calls for blitzing your linebackers a lot, then that's what we'll do.
There are some changes that will happen with the outside linebackers that you didn't see last season.
"The past two years I played strong side linebacker which was over the tight end, this year we are playing right and left linebacker," said Aldridge. "Sometimes I be on the weak side and sometimes I will be on the strong side, so that is a plus because it gives me a chance to run and get a different look and also play the back side not always being on the tight end. Being up on the line giving me a chance to run from side line to side line."
So that means that both Aldrige and Claiborne will be covering the tight end in man to man coverage in the Lions base 4-3 package. One things that does allow is more flexibility to call blitzes, since each man will have the responsibility to cover the tight ends and running backs out of the backfield.
But just like the Lions offense, the Lions defense is going over a change in scheme as well as attitude.
"More then anything it is just the attitude on defense that we have, we want to be good and that is the starting point," Aldrige said.