Detroit Lions defensive breakout player: A’Shawn Robinson

Three reasons why A’Shawn Robinson is poised to have a breakout 2018 season for the Detroit Lions defense under new head coach Matt Patricia.

The Detroit Lions defense will have a different feel and look to it than it has in the past. There are new faces from the defensive coordinator, to the linebacker coach. Also, the hiring of a defensive-minded head coach in Matt Patricia. It will incorporate multiple looks with a 4-3/3-4 hybrid combination that we are not used to seeing in Detroit.

One player I can see benefiting the most from the changes will be defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson.

Scheme Change

Robinson has not lived up to the high expectations coming out of Alabama. He was being pegged as the next Lions disruptive defensive lineman. The experiment has taken longer than what most people would’ve wanted especially in his pass rushing. He has only mustered 2.5 sacks in his career so far. With Patricia’s scheme change, he will be able to utilize his talents as a run defender first.

Under the old regime, the defensive tackles were expected to break through the offensive line and get into the backfield quickly. But with Patricia’s scheme, they are going to be expected to hold their ground and control the gaps. In turn, allowing the linebackers and secondary to get in good position to disrupt plays. With his massive 6’4’’, 320 pound body, he does this with ease since his days in Alabama. This scheme suits his style of play as a run defender, and will lead to Robinson taking a step forward.

Familiar Face

Robinson will be also be getting an old Alabama teammate back in Da’Shawn Hand, Detroit Lion’s 4th round pick in this years draft. The two played together along Alabama’s defensive line in the 2014 and 2015 seasons; combining for 118 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks. During his post-draft conference call, here is what Hand had to say about the reunion

It’s going to be a great thing. I’m just happy that I’m part of the Detroit Lions and that I know somebody actually. Bo Davis, me and him, we go way back. He helped develop me to the player I am. So I’m just glad to be reunited with those guys.

If they can bring the same chemistry they had at Alabama to Detroit, the Lions will have a two-headed monster along the defensive line.

Old Coach

Detroit Lions defensive line coach Bo Davis will be the biggest reason why Robinson will erupt this season. Bo Davis held the same position at Alabama while Robinson, as well as Hand, was in college, making them an integral part of the defense. Davis’ effective coaching of the defensive line made Alabama the nation’s top defense and 2015 national champions.

Thanks in part to Davis’ coaching, Robinson was a 2015 Outland Trophy finalist . This award is given to the nation’s best interior lineman for both offense and defense. Unfortunately, he lost to Stanford guard Joshua Garnett. According to MLive’s Nate Atkins, Lions see A’Shawn Robinson as one of their best, and Bo Davis can help. With the strong player/coach dynamic, Davis knows how to get the best out of Robinson and he knows what Davis expects out of him to succeed.

With the new defensive scheme that fits Robinson’s talents, having Hand playing alongside him again, and having a familiar coach in Bo Davis; I expect Robinson to have a break though season.