Detroit Lions: Shifts on the Defensive Line Will Give Opposing Offenses Fits

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistAugust 7, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 07:   Nick Fairley #98 of the Detroit Lions reacts after a fumble in the second quarter by Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints in the during their 2012 NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 7, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Yesterday, I mentioned the Lions new "Grey" scheme in which the Lions shift defensive tackles Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh to defensive end and kick the ends inside.

It’s one of a number of different shifts the team is employing, both as a way to keep offenses guessing about where Suh will be, as well as where other players will be set as well.

Last year, Suh’s numbers dropped by quite a bit, a victim of one part suspension and one part effective scheming by offenses to get him out of the play.

In an interview a few weeks back, Suh told me part of what the team was doing was finding ways to move him around, something they did more frequently his rookie season. He believed in the plan they used last year, but while he won’t say it, that plan had to be frustrating to him given the drop in impact.

Moving Suh around makes it harder to key on him, and the "Grey" scheme is just one way the Lions will be doing it.

As you can see by that scheme, though, it’s not just about Suh.

Moving the other players around the defensive line as well keeps offenses guessing and could free up different players to get loose and into the backfield to disrupt a play.

According to the Daily News’ Chris McCosky, it’s already made things tough on their own offense and also seems to be a scheme which Nick Fairley excels in.

The more players the Lions can make appear to be a threat on any given play, the better off they are.

What that also does is gain pressure on an opposing quarterback quickly, which will help a secondary which is still finding its’ feet.

Of course, none of this is truly new—as McCosky points out the Steelers did it for years. Rex Ryan shifts a lot of players around for the Jets (though not to this extent), and the Ravens show many different fronts that never seem to mean the same thing twice.

That’s not to say the Lions can’t add a few new wrinkles.

In a league where passing for tons of yards has become the norm, the quicker you can get to the quarterback and disrupt his play, the better, and in order to do that, you need to counter the offense’s blocking scheme.

With schemes like the "Grey" package, the Lions appear poised to do just that.