Morning Roar: Lombardi wants flexibility

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Since the day he was hired to become Detroit's offensive coordinator, Joe Lombardi has preached the need for flexibility.

Flexibility with the plays he calls. Flexibility with the formations he runs. And, perhaps most importantly, flexibility with the personnel that he has. All of this, of course, is intertwined when it comes to constructing an offense not entirely his own.

He has never been shy in admitting the Lions will look a bit like New Orleans North when they line up Saturday in the preseason opener and then certainly on "Monday Night Football" against the New York Giants in September to start the regular season.

And part of that is understanding what he wants his offense to actually be.

"Moving the ball and scoring the points, protecting the football," Lombardi said. "I think it is flexibility. If we have to get in 22 personnel and pound the ball to win the game in four-minute offense, we want to be able to do that. We also have the weapons to spread them out and throw the ball around a little bit. It’s flexibility I think, doing whatever it takes to win the game.”

Twenty-two personnel means two running backs and two tight ends, which is a departure from the favored offensive formation of former offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who liked to use three wide receivers as much as possible. Expect to see a lot of two tight ends on the field, especially in base-type sets. It was a large reason why Detroit ended up drafting a tight end, Eric Ebron, in the first round in May instead of bolstering its defense.

And it would appear unlike some other coaches, Lombardi is going to at least show parts of his offense during the preseason. I wouldn't expect to see too much trickery or wrinkles, but he makes it sound like it won't be garden-variety basic, either. After all, his players are still learning it too so they could use the practice.

"That concern about showing too much of your offense is a little overblown," Lombardi said. "Certainly there will be some things that maybe we haven’t worked on quite enough that you don’t want to call. Or there might be one or two things that you want to save for the regular season. But for the most part we’re going to go out and institute the offense we’ve been practicing here.”

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