On Wednesday, the Detroit Lions hired Jim Caldwell to be their new head coach and now they have hired Baltimore Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin to be their new defensive coordinator and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan to be their new linebacker coach.
Lions senior writer and insider Tim Twentyman confirmed the news:
When it comes to Austin being hired as their new defensive coordinator, I must say it’s honestly not a surprise. The moment Caldwell was hired as the head coach, multiple reporters and analysts predicted that Caldwell would want to hire Austin as his defensive coordinator. Remember that Austin has a solid relationship with Caldwell since he was a graduate assistant at Penn State when Caldwell was an assistant there, he also worked for Caldwell at Wake Forest for three years. Then of course recently he was part of the Baltimore Ravens staff with Caldwell.
Now the last time Austin was a defensive coordinator was on the college level, when he took over for Charlie Strong at University of Florida back in 2010 but he has never been a NFL defensive coordinator. As I mentioned earlier, he was recently the secondary coach of the Baltimore Ravens. Before that, he was a defensive backs coach for the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks.
When it comes to improving secondaries, he has a good track record. During his three years with the Ravens, they finished fourth against the pass in 2011, 17th in 2012 and 12th last season. He also helped to lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers last season.
He has also done a solid job of developing talent, specifically in the secondary. Cornernback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith and safeties Antrel Rolle and Adrian Wilson are products of his great coaching and development. During his time at Michigan as a defensive assistant, he coached Cato June, Charles Drake, Marlin Jackson, and Jeremy LeSueur (all of whom were drafted into the NFL).
So when it comes to his job with the Lions, he is not expected to make drastic changes to the Lions defensive scheme. Basically meaning that the Lions will continue to run a 4-3 defense, which best suits the existing personnel. This hire mainly helps to improve the weakest area of the Lions defense which is the secondary. Plus I like the fact that Austin, is a disciplinarian and aggressive play caller. So I definitely feel like this is a solid hire for the Lions.
As far as Bill Sheridan is concerned, this is an interesting hire. He is a Detroit native, who graduated from De La Salle Collegiate High School and earned four letters as a linebacker at Grand Valley State University. If that’s not enough, he began his coaching career began in 1981 in Shrine High School in Royal Oak, Michigan, where he was the football coach until 1984.
As I mentioned earlier, he was most recently the defensive coordinator for the Buccaneers, but at the end of the season he and other staff members were let go along with head coach Greg Schiano.
However, when it comes to Sheridan, he’s got plenty of experience coaching linebackers varying from his time with the Miami Dolphins, the New York Giants, Michigan, Michigan State and few more teams. Fortunately for him, he inherits a solid core of linebackers including DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch.
So overall when it comes to Sheridan, he should help to make the Lions run defense even better. During his time with the Buccaneers as the defensive coordinator, they had one of the better run defenses in the NFL, they were even the league’s top-ranked run defense in 2012. The problem with Sheridan comes more from passing yards that were allowed. However, with Austin on the staff as the defensive coordinator, there is no reason to think Austin won’t make up for what Sheridan lacks and vice versa.
Just in case you were wondering, Lions senior writer and insider Tim Twentyman reported that the Lions have retained seven members of Jim Shcwartz’s staff from last season including Jeremiah Washburn, Terry Heffernan, Bonamego, Curtis Modkins, Jim Washburn, Kris Kocurek and Bobby Johnson.
With that being said, there are only few staff positions left, one of the main positions being the offensive coordinator position. While there is still plenty of speculation on who it could be, the Lions have yet to confirm who will they hire. So for now, we will have to wait and see.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
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