Teryl Austin: Detroit Lions 'plan to be better' on D

The Detroit Lions lost one of the best defensive players in the NFL when Ndamukong Suh defected to Miami. Yet, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin expects no drop off from the No. 2 overall defense.

"We plan to be better this year," Austin told season-ticket holders Tuesday, per the Detroit Free Press.

Despite a decimated defensive line, Austin's optimism stems from the Lions' acquisition of five-time Pro Bowl lineman Haloti Ngata. At 31, Ngata isn't the disruptive force Suh is currently, but the veteran is no slouch, especially against the run. Austin also pointed to the return of linebacker Stephen Tulloch -- who missed most of last season with a torn ACL -- as a reason a defense that lost two former first-round tackles can improve.

The Lions have insisted that they won't move from a base 4-3 set to a 3-4, which Ngata played in and Austin coached under in Baltimore. Detroit's brass instead has insisted in merely pointing out how diverse and multiple their sets will be, regardless of the label.

"It'll look a little different, but the objectives will remain the same," Austin said of his defense in 2015. "The thing with Haloti, he's been a part of a lot of top defenses as well, and he knows, he understands the expectations, the commitment, everything that you need to play great defense, and that's what we're going to do.

"Our goal is not to look much different. If we look different, it should be better."

If the Lions are to be better than 2014, they'll need to add depth to the defensive line and secondary in the draft. More than anything, improvements from rising stud Ziggy Ansah on the edge and corner Darius Slay could make the biggest impact in 2015.

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