Detroit Lions Offense Will Look More Like Ravens Than Saints


When Joe Lombardi joined the Detroit Lions as part of Jim Caldwell’s coaching staff most fans assumed that a New Orleans Saints type offense would come with him.  The perception was reinforced when the Lions drafted a Jimmy Graham type tight end in Eric Ebron early in the first round of the 2014 draft.  Unfortunately the perception proved to be far from reality.

The Detroit Lions offense struggled to score points in 2014 achieving a ranking of just 22nd.  A far cry from an New Orleans offensive scheme that consistently ranks near the top of the league every season.  So why didn’t the scheme work for the Saints and not for the Lions?

The simple answer is personnel.

The Lions current roster does not match-up with the high-speed Air Coryell type scheme employed by Sean Payton and executed by Drew Brees in New Orleans.

Evidence came mid-season in 2014 when Joe Lombardi said that he was scaling back 20% of the playbook to simplify the Lions offense.  Most assumed that the downsizing came as a result of key offensive players inability to grasp the complicated offense but blaming the intellectual ability of the players is the easy way out. 

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The dirty little secret is that the Lion’s personnel did not have the skill set necessary to execute the offense, most notably at quarterback.  This is not to say that the Lions have less talent on offense than do the Saints.  It is simply a statement that a specialized offense calls for specialized players the Lions roster did not have.

Do you think that theory is bunk?

Just look at what the coaching staff has said after the 2015 draft.  Both Jim Caldwell and Joe Lombardi stated that the Lions will focus on running the ball this season.

"“I think it’s one of the things that I’ve said consistently is that your offensive and defensive lines are the heartbeat of your team. The most important things that you have to make certain that you do is you have to stop the run and you have to be able to run the ball.’’"

In fact it you can make an argument that the 2015 Detroit Lions offense will more closely resemble the Baltimore Ravens than the New Orleans Saints.  A closer look at the numbers shows that Detroit is trending in that direction.

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*Super Bowl Champions

And why not?  The personnel certainly seems to match-up.  The hard grinding but speedy rushers should set up Matthew Stafford for success just as the Ravens running game did for Joe Flacco.  The combination earned Baltimore (and Jim Caldwell) a championship in 2012 so why not in Detroit?

Next: Four Bold 2015 Predictions