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Joe Lombardi: Lions' offensive play calling 'not good enough'

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Joe Lombardi described his play calling through two games as "not good enough." All he needs to do is look at the final score of both of the Detroit Lions' first two games.

Despite the insistence from players that the Lions would be more comfortable on offense in the second season under Lombardi, it hasn’t translated yet into victories.

“Not scoring enough points is the problem,” Lombardi said. "So we’ve got to find the formula. We’ve got good enough players, we just have to find the formula to help us succeed.”

Detroit is averaging 22 points per game this season, but that is somewhat of a misnomer considering the Lions have scored only five offensive touchdowns in the first two games. That is merely one of Detroit’s issues offensively: From struggles with blocking to a non-existent run game and not being able to get to some of the deeper pass calls on the play sheet.

The Lions rank in the bottom half of the NFL in almost every major offensive statistical category other than passing yards per game, in which they are 11th. The run game is among the worst in the league for the second straight season and the Lions are averaging 5.34 yards per play – No. 20 in the league.

Despite all of this, Lombardi said he is still “optimistic” in the direction Detroit’s offense is heading because he believes a lot of the offensive woes are small fixes.

“They’ve been addressed,” Lombardi said. “Some of them are small issues that you’ve already mentioned, some of them are communication and some of them are technique and fundamentals.”

Lombardi believes more consistency will help alleviate some of the issues the Lions have had offensively – both in protecting quarterback Matthew Stafford and finding ways to get the offense going overall. He said a fear of turnovers is not the issue for why Detroit has not thrown many deep passes, a staple of the Lions' offense prior to Lombardi’s arrival.

He said those plays have been on call sheets, but that the Lions have not gotten to them.

“We’ve got plays programmed in that are shot plays,” Lombardi said. “We didn’t get to a ton of them on Sunday. We had one that was an interception that was a pass interference call. Some of it is there was so much no-huddle going on and so some of that is, there may be a shot, one receiver has a shot but there are also underneath options for the quarterback.

“They were forcing us into a lot of the underneath stuff.”

Lombardi said he isn’t worried about Calvin Johnson or Golden Tate on deep passes and that if those plays happen, they’ll be able to win the ball.

One area the Lions have shown success is in no-huddle offense, but the Lions don’t employ it a ton. Lombardi said it has not been an emphasis in Detroit. He did explain the drawbacks and plusses of using it.

“The drawbacks are that it keeps you maybe from some of the formation variations and personnel variations,” Lombardi said. “But sometimes you can get in rhythm with it. So it has plusses and minuses.”

Whatever it is, though, Lombardi knows the Lions have to get better on offense for them to have a successful season – but there are reasons he’s optimistic about it.

“Just knowing that we have good players, knowing that we’ve executed well in spots,” Lombardi said. “We get a little more consistent, we’re going to be a lot more excited about it.”