By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – With the Detroit Lions under the direction of new head coach Jim Caldwell, new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, film of the Lions might not be as instructive for opponents as it usually would be.
While the Lions have spoken with regularity about the similarities between their new offense and that of the New Orleans Saints, it seems the setup of the defense has been less frequently discussed, and New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said the fact Austin is a first-time coordinator in the NFL does make it a bit more of a challenge to plan for his team’s Monday Night Football tilt against Detroit.
“I think it’s always going to be an issue when you in fact don’t have a lot to go by,” Coughlin said. “You pick your spots in the preseason games and study basically when the ones are in there or notice anything different or unusual, a pressure or a coverage or an adjustment to a coverage. Other than that, as I said, we’ve got to go play and play our game and be prepared to adjust no matter what happens.”
To supplement a lack of material that reveals the way the Lions play under Austin, the Giants have looked at film from Austin’s earlier stops, including the University of Florida, where Austin was the defensive coordinator in 2010.
“There’s value in studying everything,” Coughlin said. “We’ve gone back as far as we can go, and we’ve studied certainly when he was in Baltimore, we studied some big games there, so we’ve looked at a lot of these things even though he may not have been the play caller then, but he certainly had a lot to do with it as the secondary coach.”
While the Giants might not know exactly what to expect from the Lions defense, New York can count on Detroit’s defensive line.
“They’re a very, very good defensive front,” Coughlin said. “They’re aggressive, they’re penetrators, they’re powerful, so they cause certainly significant problems as we prepare. We just have to get ourselves ready and get our football team in the position we want to be in.”
On the other side of the field, Coughlin has noticed more balance in Detroit’s offense, as well as an emphasis on limiting turnovers. As usual, a certain amount of the discussion about the Lions’ attack revolves around wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
“You better know where he is, and you better know where he is all the time, and you better have some adjustments prepared for him and you’ve got to certainly set your coverage or set some of your coverages to try to be in a position to take the things he does really well – he does a lot of things really well – at least be able to contest to those,” Coughlin said.
Both the Lions and the Giants finished 7-9 in 2013.