- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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In the midst of his introductory news conference Wednesday, new Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell confirmed the Lions would continue running a 4-3 defense under his regime.
This was expected from the outset, when general manager Martin Mayhew said they would prefer a coach who ran a 4-3 because that is what they have built this defense to be, centered around defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley along with 4-3 linebackers Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy.
And while it is not official yet, from the outset of Caldwell’s candidacy, his defensive coordinator has been expected to be the defensive backs coach at Baltimore the past three seasons and his defensive backs coach at Wake Forest from 1993 to 1995, Teryl Austin.
Here’s a look at Austin’s career to give an idea of what the Lions might end up getting should he officially be hired.
As a coordinator:
Austin’s defense at Florida in 2010 had your typical level of SEC talent, including Will Hill (now of the Giants) at free safety and Jelani Jenkins (now with the Dolphins) at linebacker and Janoris Jenkins at cornerback.
It was certainly a talented defense, at least in the secondary. A lot of that talent was young.
Draft picks from that defense:
Ahmad Black, S, Pick 151 (Tampa Bay)
Janoris Jenkins, CB, Pick 39 (St. Louis) *ended up at North Alabama before the NFL
Jaye Howard, DE, Pick 114 (Seattle)
Sharrif Floyd, DL, Pick 23 (Minnesota)
Matt Elam, S, Pick 32 (Baltimore)
Jon Bostic, LB, Pick 50 (Chicago)
Jelani Jenkins, LB, Pick 104 (Miami)
Josh Evans, S, Pick 169 (Jacksonville)
Potential 2014 draft picks:
Dominique Easley, DL
Jaylen Watkins, DB
One thing he did not do was recruit or coach Marcus Roberson or Louchiez Purifoy, two of the top cornerbacks coming out in this year’s NFL draft. So the obvious potential tie to drafting them there is not there despite their common Florida background.
Numbers for Austin’s defense at Florida in 2010:
Rushing defense: 31st (130.62 yards)
Pass efficiency defense: 12th (108.69)
Total defense: 9th (306.54 yards)
Scoring defense: 29th (21.31 points)
Pass defense: 12th (175.92 yards)
Sacks: T-86th (1.62 per game)
Tackles for loss: 40th (6.38 per game)
Here’s some thoughts from our Jaguars reporter, Michael DiRocco, who covered Austin at Florida in 2010:
Teryl Austin stepped into a tough spot when he became Florida’s defensive coordinator in 2010. He was taking over for Charlie Strong, who led defenses that were the main reasons the Gators won national titles in 2006 and 2008.
Austin did a solid job -- UF finished ninth nationally in total defense and 29th nationally in scoring -- considering he didn’t have much to work with up front. The 2009 defense featured a pair of defensive ends that would go on to become second-round NFL draft picks (Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap) but the 2010 defense had just one player on the defensive line two-deep depth chart that would go on to be drafted (Jaye Howard).
Not surprisingly, the Gators struggled against the run that season, giving up 130.6 yards per game on the ground, the worst mark since the 2004 defense gave up 142 yards per game. But Austin’s defense was pretty good at linebacker and in the secondary, finishing 12th in the nation in pass defense (176 yards per game) and intercepting 22 passes, the third-highest total in the nation that season.
The defense’s biggest issue was inconsistency, especially against better teams. UF lost all four games against ranked opponents (Alabama, LSU, South Carolina and Florida State) and was outscored 131-56 and gave up at least 31 points in each game.
Austin was pretty aggressive with blitzes, though that was partly due to the fact that the front four was unable to get much pressure on its own. That lack of pressure forced Austin to blitz more than he anticipated. The Gators managed just 21 sacks in 2010, the third-lowest single-season total since the school began tracking sacks in 1981.”
As a position coach:
This year, the Ravens were 12th in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 230.06 yards a game and 12th in interception percentage at 2.9. In 2012, the Ravens were 17th in pass defense (228.13) and 19th in interception percentage (2.3).
In Austin’s first year in Baltimore, the team was fourth in pass defense (196.25) and 19th in interception percentage (2.8).
In Arizona from 2007 to 2009, his pass defense was 23rd in 2009 (233.69), 22nd in 2008 (221.25) and 28th in 2007 (232.25). The team’s interception percentage was eighth in 2009 (3.5), 19th in 2008 (2.5) and 17th in 2007 (3.2).
As a position coach, he didn’t have complete control over his secondary, but his cornerbacks were typically 5-foot-11 in Arizona his first two seasons until his third year, when he had Bryant McFadden (6-foot) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (6-foot-2).
In Baltimore, he clearly preferred taller cornerbacks. Only one corner, Lardarius Webb, was under 6-foot among his starting corners in his three seasons with the Ravens.
At Michigan, he coached Cato June, Marlin Jackson, Charles Drake and Jeremy LeSueur -- all of whom were drafted. At Syracuse, he coached former Detroit Lion Kevin Abrams, who was drafted in the second round of the 1997 draft as well as Tebucky Jones, Donovin Darius and Phil Nash, who signed with the Lions as a free agent in 1999.