Lions are tweaking their approach to defensive line play

NFL: DEC 26 Lions at Falcons
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The kneecap-biting Lions are modifying their approach to biting kneecaps.

Recently, coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn explained that the defensive line will be making a shift to the manner in which they approach their assignments.

It’s less of a change to the alignment and more of a change to the philosophy.

“I just think more of it is, I just call it much more ‘hitting the blocks,’” Campbell said, via “I don’t want to say we were catching, and it wasn’t two-gap, we just were a little more, ‘Play at the line of scrimmage,’ where now we really want to play more on their side of the line of scrimmage. That’s the best way to describe it.”

It sounds as if it’s less hold-your-ground-and-read-the-play and more attack-attack-attack. The former approach, if successful, ties up the offensive line and gives the linebackers a chance to get to the ball. The latter approach creates potential disruption and chaos in the backfield.

“We still have all the front variations, all those things, but I think that will probably be the biggest difference that anybody would notice, is just the fact that we want to — we’re not just running through gaps and closing our eyes and stuff like that,” Campbell said. “We’re not like that, but we are much more, ‘Hit the blocks and play on their side of the line of scrimmage,’ which is a little bit different than what we were last year.”

It sounds as if reading and reacting will still happen. But if it’s happening on the offense’s side of the line of scrimmage, the tackles will be made faster and the gains will be minimized.

Every team presumably would like to perform this way. It requires defensive linemen who can overpower those who are trying to block them.

“It is a more aggressive style of defense,” Glenn said, via “I want to be able to take advantage of every player, their ability as much as I can. I want to take advantage of that athleticism that Alim [McNeill] has. I want to showcase that. It makes sense. I want to showcase it. I want to showcase what Levi [Onwuzurike] shows at the scene. I want to showcase what Aidan [Hutchinson] could do when I’m kicking him inside to do things. I want to showcase wha [Josh Paschal] can do. So I’m looking at every player’s ability and how can I showcase this.”

That’s good coaching. That’s the way to get the most out of the defensive front. That’s the way to get them to play so well that people are coming up with a nickname for them.

12 responses to “Lions are tweaking their approach to defensive line play

  1. If the Lions have any kind of success at all this year, Aaron Glenn will be a HC somewhere next year (Arizona). Hopefully the Lions have a successor on staff learning this stuff too.

  2. Remember when they drafted Ziggy Ansah? That guy was closer to getting his AARP card than his drivers license

  3. Seven (7 or 70 years) decades of adjustments, tweaking and blah blah blah…..the Lions have one playoff win.

  4. This was just a 10 second take from a 10 minute podium speach. Anyone who takes this time to bash the Lions last 40 years is garbage.

  5. lionsnati0n says:
    May 29, 2022 at 7:29 pm
    This was just a 10 second take from a 10 minute podium speach. Anyone who takes this time to bash the Lions last 40 years is garbage.

    Couldn’t agree more. The Lions arrow is pointing up. (BTW you’re referring to Vikings fans primarily).

  6. This is becoming more popular as teams move away from power run formations. Rams a couple of years ago adopted Chip Kelly’s 404 defensive scheme and had some serious success with it. Other teams put the package in since.
    Problem with an attacking dline is they can get pushed off their path and open up running lanes, also if the oline can get to the 2nd level, you get gouged.
    This is what makes teams like TB, NE, Ravens and SF…outlier power run teams difficult to deal with as they are becoming fewer and fewer.
    Good Luck Lions, but reality is they are moving to line up with what others are already doing.

  7. Lots of talk but 70 years of mediocrity. Will once again battle for last place in NFC North. Vikings have dominated Detroit for many years no matter who the coach was, and no sign that won’t continue.

  8. I really like this coaching staff, but I wonder when in the history of the NFL a defensive coach has ever said “We’re gonna be less aggressive”?

  9. lions have been in the basement for years… no reason for packers, bears or vikings fans to fear them. Vikings have owned them for years ,and I don’t see any difference this year

  10. the Lions first better tweak their roster and get some real DTs first in place of the candy-bottoms and has-beens they fielded last year;

    the bunch they got couldn’t collapse a bingo board at a retirement home on the pass rush and couldn’t stop a med school cadaver at the point of attack against the run;

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