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09/26/13Author: Tim Twentyman -- DetroitLions.com

Cunningham impressed with early play of Willie Young

Cunningham impressed with early play of Willie Young


The early season play of Willie Young and Ziggy Ansah has gone beyond any line in the stat book.

First-round pick Ziggy Ansah has played terrific early on this season. He’s coming off a two-sack performance vs. Washington and leads all rookies with 2.5 sacks on the season.

"He reminds me of some of the great players I’ve seen," Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham told Detroitlions.com.

"With Ziggy, you really don’t notice it until you look at the tapes how many plays he’s made that are almost the side of impossible. He just searches for the ball and gets it done. That’s the most impressive thing about him.

"People said he didn’t have football instincts, well, I guess if you grow up in Africa you get some instincts. I don’t know what it is he has but he really finds the ball quickly."

The Lions have also benefited from the improved play of Willie Young. Young had a sack two weeks ago in Arizona and followed that up with five tackles and forced an interception with a pressure on Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.

That’s a good sign moving forward, because Young will now have more of a featured role with starterJason Jones lost for the rest of the season with a left knee injury.

"There’s no doubt Ziggy had a good game (in Washington), but I think one of the guys nobody talks about is Willie Young," Cunningham said. "I thought he really played well early in the game."

Cunningham said the Redskins completely changed their offensive scheme last week to try and get to the Lions edge.

Watching the film in preparation for the game, Cunningham saw the Redskins send their tight ends to block the defensive ends and try to get the fullback down on the safeties.

"In this game they switched it up and put the tight end up on the safety and brought the full back to try and cut the end," Cunningham said.

"Willie got frustrated. I talked to him at halftime for a second or two and what he did was attack the fullback deep in their backfield. That caused the ball to go horizontal. That’s how we knocked them down. I was pretty happy with how they played out there.

"It’s no question the size upfront is really helping us. We’re chasing the ball to the edge and keeping it out of the inside part of the defense."

Cunningham also touched on the Bears offense:

"The thing you notice right away is the discipline within the offense and the structure within the offense. Marc (Trestman) coaches with the west coast coaches, Bill Walsh and (George) Seifert and all those, and he’s a real disciplined coach on offense.

"What Jay’s (Cutler) done is his footwork has really improved. He’s in five quick steps, plant, either one hit, or let it go right away. He’s delivering the ball on time and their routes are matched up. He’s taking what he can get. Not trying to make a homerun ball on every play. Overall, it’s really impressive what Jay has done and what Marc has done with the team."

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