Lions new coordinator Cory Undlin not focused on defense’s past struggles

Detroit News

Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin isn’t fixated on the past and the troubles the Lions have had on that side of the ball.

In his first year on the job, Undlin is looking to make his own mark and give a clean slate to the players he inherited from his predecessor, Paul Pasqualoni, along with the new additions the Lions have made in the offseason, including cornerback Jeff Okudah, the No. 3 overall pick.

The Lions’ numbers on defense last season were deflating: 400.4 yards allowed per game — including 284.4 passing — as well as 26.4 points allowed and finishing next-to-last in total defense.

Undlin doesn’t want to hear it. He wasn’t even here.

For the past five seasons, Undlin was the defensive backs coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, and although he will use much of the same Lions personnel that has struggled in the past, he’s not resigned to rehashing the same stories.

“I’m not really interested in reflecting on the past — I don’t mean to be disrespectful; that’s not what I’m doing — but I’m more interested on what’s going to happen tomorrow in our meetings and in practice. So, I will leave it at that for now,” Undlin said Tuesday. “What I’m concerned about right now is … to play at the highest level possible to try to help this team win.

Undlin also will call the defensive plays for the first time, in Sunday’s opener against the Chicago Bears. He’s endeared himself to his new defense and they’ve made an impression on him and what possibilities there are in turning things around.

“Obviously, I have nothing but confidence that this defense is going to help us win,” Undlin said. “That’s yet to be seen but from the spring, from my first day in this building as I got introduced to some of the players and now back in training camp, I love this group of men. I wouldn’t want anybody else in this building right now.”

Undlin, 49, has been a part of two Super Bowls, with the New England Patriots in 2004 and Eagles in 2017, so the coaching experience in big games is there, but translating that to the Lions, who haven’t had a top-tier defense in years, will be the biggest challenge.

Although the first Lions depth chart didn’t list Okudah as a starter, the rookie still could be added.

rod.beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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