The Detroit Lions' defense has revolved around the play of its line since coach Jim Schwartz was hired in 2009.
Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley were the Lions' first-round draft picks in 2010 and 2011. Kyle Vanden Bosch, Schwartz's former defensive coordinator in Tennessee, joined Detroit in 2010. Cliff Avril had a career-high 11 sacks in 2011.
That group, however, was anything but spectacular in 2012, as the Lions' defense ranked 27th in the NFL in scoring defense and 20th in sacks (34). The defense had 41 sacks in 2011.
The Lions' defensive line will get extra attention now that former Philadelphia Eagles defensive line coach Jim Washburn has been hired. Washburn doesn't have a title yet, but he and defensive line coach Kris Kocurek will both concentrate on that group.
"The more eyes on those guys, the better," Schwartz said Wednesday, via the Lions' official website. "That can help with technique, it can help with scheme, it can help with game plan, it can help with game day. There's a lot of positives there. He's very familiar with our scheme, he's had a lot of production. I think it will be a benefit for us."
Washburn coached the Titans' defensive line from 1999 to 2010. He and Schwartz implemented the Wide-9 formation together in Tennessee, then separately in Detroit and Philadelphia. They worked together for 10 years.
"We're very happy with Kris, but a chance to be able to get a coach that I've worked with, that everybody on our defensive staff has some relationship with ... there's a lot of relationships there that we respect what he's done," Schwartz said. "I think he can bring something to our defense and can add to it."
As respected as Washburn is, he's not enough to turn things around for the Lions. A sub-par secondary doesn't give the line much of an opportunity to get home. At least the talent is there on the line. The same can't be said for those behind them.