Allen Park — Like many Lions players, free safety Glover Quin holds no ill will toward Ndamukong Suh after the All-Pro defensive tackle spurned the Lions to sign a $114 million contract. The two former teammates even texted back and forth after Suh officially left.
"I just called him a couple bad words and told him how I really felt on the inside of my heart," Quin said, jokingly. "I then told him, 'Congratulations on signing a mega deal and have fun in Miami.' And he said, 'Sorry it took so long to text you back. I've been busy.'
"And he said, 'Cool, I'll see you next year at the Pro Bowl.' "
The Lions defense ranked second in the NFL last year, but with Suh, Nick Fairley and George Johnson gone, it'll look different in 2015. Even with those key contributors elsewhere, Quin — who made his first Pro Bowl last year — expects the Lions to avoid a major tumble defensively.
"I can't think of not one defense throughout the history that stayed the same from year to year," Quin said. "You're going to lose somebody, whether they are the star or whether they're the nickel back that came in that was a key piece of the defense because everything works together."
Part of Quin's confidence heading into next season comes from his belief in defensive coordinator Teryl Austin's scheme, which helped the Lions have the top run defense last year.
With Suh gone, the Lions will lean heavily on defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, whom the Lions traded for in March. Quin called Ngata a "great, great, great player" who will draw a double team even at age 31.
Quin has experienced losing a top defensive player before. When he was with the Texans, defensive end Mario Williams left in 2012 and signed a six-year, $100 million deal with the Bills. Houston actually improved its record without Williams, finishing 12-4 in 2012 after going 10-6 in 2011. Granted, J.J. Watt's improvement — 201/2 sacks in 2012 — made it easier to overcome Williams' absence.
"I just think the thing you have to do is you have to believe in the system. You have to believe in the unit," he said. "You have to be flexible within your scheme and within your system, and everybody just has to buy in."
Quin was among the Lions players who expected Suh to re-sign with the Lions, and he said Wednesday he had no reason to think Suh would leave. Now, the Lions will have to find a way to replace his impact and production.
"At the end of the day it's business," Quin said. "We offered him what we could offer, and Suh took what he could get. I don't blame Suh; I don't blame anybody. It was what it was, and the deal happened."