Kyle Vanden Bosch, Defensive end
HE SPENT spent five seasons in Tennessee on one of the league's most feared defensive lines, suffocating offenses by rushing the quarterback, pinching in the running back and effectively shrinking the field. In Detroit, those objectives remain unchanged.
As does the defensive strategy. "It's the same scheme I played for the last five years," says Vanden Bosch, who signed a four-year, $26 million deal to play for Jim Schwartz, his former Titans defensive coordinator. "So it's been easy for me to come in and pick it up and help some of the younger guys new to the system. Nobody [around the league] expects much from us, and I think everybody here sees that as a challenge."
While Vanden Bosch is 31 and coming off a three-sack season, Schwartz says the defensive end looked as good on film as he did when he notched 12 sacks in 2007. "Sacks are a funny thing," Schwartz says. "Sometimes if [opponents] want to be able to take you out [of the play], they can. It was a dynamic change without Al [Haynesworth] next to him. I've heard people make the analogy in baseball—it's not so much what your batting average is, it's how you're hitting the ball. I have a lot of experience with Kyle, but I made sure that that didn't affect our judgment of him."
Schwartz let other members of the coaching staff and personnel department thoroughly evaluate Vanden Bosch independently before weighing in. "The last thing you want is to let you your past or your personal experience taint the judgment of others," Schwartz says. "When I saw that everybody felt the same way about him, then I said certain things about my history with him. Kyle's not here to do anything other than play football, sack the quarterback and be a marquee player."