ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Quarterback Matthew Stafford said predictability is not a problem in the Detroit Lions' offense despite opposing players telling wide receiver Golden Tate they knew what plays were coming in all three of the Lions' losses.
"I don't think it's a problem at all, honestly," Stafford said.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell acknowledged there are times when teams might be able to pick up on what Detroit is going to run offensively but that it is no different from any other team in the league, including what the Lions learn from film study each week.
He said having offensive linemen with microphones picking up audibles and play calls during games has potentially added to that but that teams have always studied tendencies of opponents. He also said the Lions have also been able to pick up on this sort of information in the past.
"Oh, a lot more than what you think," Caldwell said. "Let me put it that way. All teams study and work hard. There's always some tips here and there, but often times what you find out is, much like from my days, remember back in the old days when Bo [Schembechler] and Woody [Hayes] ran all the same plays all the time? You knew they were coming.
"But the fact of the matter is could you stop it because they could execute it so well. I think there's something to be said about that as well."
Lions safety Glover Quin said "maybe three or four times a game" he'll know what an opponent is going to run, mostly through film study, concepts and knowing where teams like to go -- things every team in the league and on most levels of football study and scout.
Caldwell and Stafford both said they felt this issue was being made to be bigger than it is.
It all started after Denver cornerback Bradley Roby told The Detroit News that he knew what play was coming on his interception. On Tuesday, Tate told Detroit Sports 105.1 FM that he has been told by opponents in all three games that they knew some of what the Lions were going to run. Stafford said no one has told him they knew what plays were being run, adding that his two interceptions came on plays that were new to the Detroit playbook.
"So maybe they know something. Maybe they are hacking into our computers or something, I don't know," Stafford said jokingly. "But as far as how we're lining up, I couldn't tell you. Those guys are maybe smarter than me. I don't know."
Caldwell said he believes the Lions players are still behind offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, who does his coaching from field level. Caldwell said Monday he was not planning on taking play calling from Lombardi and on Thursday said he's not planning on asking Lombardi to go up to the booth to give him a different vantage point.
"I don't think [support has] changed," Caldwell said. "I think they've always been behind him. I think they believe in him and I think we'll be fine. Any time you're having a stretch like we've had, everything comes into question, you know. It's the nature of our business."
One of the things questioned -- besides Lombardi's play calling -- has been Stafford's ability to audible and change plays at the line of scrimmage. Caldwell would not address how much freedom Stafford has to call audibles, check into plays or change receivers' routes on hot reads at the line of scrimmage.
Stafford said it depends on the play, but when asked how much he can call hot reads, he said in this offense "it doesn't really work like that, no."
"Plays are different," Stafford said. "Certain plays, I have more freedom than others. But I would say it's fairly similar to what it has been in the past."
The Lions have the No. 27 offense in the NFL, averaging 305 yards per game. Their rush offense is last in the league, averaging 45 yards per game, and their passing game is 12th at 260 yards per game.