As the Detroit Lions prepare for this Sunday’s matchup with the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is expecting more from his defensive unit as a whole.
“We need to get a little bit more from everybody,” he said via the Detroit Lions. “I think when you look at it and try to just say, ‘Hey, well this group’s not doing it,’ I don’t think that’s the issue. I think the issue is, overall we’re not doing it together, and I think that’s the biggest thing. We’re not functioning as a unit and getting everything going. Like I said, I like to say when you have a good play you’ve probably got nine or 10 guys that are doing things exactly right, and are doing their job great. You might have one breakdown and they don’t find it. When you have a bad play, you probably have about seven or eight doing it right, and then you have two or three issues in there. That’s when the big plays happen.”
That answer came as somewhat of a blanket statement, as the question singled out defensive tackles Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker. Ngata, who has just five tackles and 1.5 sacks through the first three games of the year, has underachieved so far this season since re-signing with the team on a two-year, $12 million contract. Walker’s stat line looks a bit better, as he has racked up eight tackles in three games.
As a whole, the team’s defense has underachieved to this point. They sport the 21st best rushing defense in the league (114.7 yards against per game) and are 16th against the pass (264.3 yards against per game).
“We’ve just got to get our guys doing it right, and we will,” said Austin. “I’ve got complete confidence in our guys, our guys work hard. We’ve got good men, got guys with high character, they’ve got high resolve. Again, last year that core group of our guys, you don’t rebound from a 1-7 start the way we did if you don’t have guys that have great character, and resolve, and mental toughness. I’m very confident that our guys will start getting it turned around, and we’re hoping to start it this week.”
A matchup with the Bears could be just the remedy to get the defense back on track. Through their three games (0-3 record), Chicago offers the 27th best offense in the league, averaging just 310.7 yards per game.