The Detroit Lions offense will have a new look heading into the 2014 NFL season. A look that could appear very similar to that of the New Orleans Saints.
New Lions’ offensive coordinator, Joe Lombardi made the move from The Big Easy to the Motor City in the offseason, and with the new coach comes new systems.
Second year running back, Reggie Bush spent five seasons with coach Lombardi in New Orleans.
During an interview on Wednesday, Bush said that the Lions new system is “exactly the same” to that of the system that was in place with the Saints during Bush’s tenure there.
When new Lions head coach, Jim Caldwell was asked about the similarities between the two offenses, he conservatively down-played question.
“There’s some things there, obviously Joe came from New Orleans he’ll be able to say, ‘Hey yeah this is just what we did in New Orleans.’ Or some of the other guys out there looks like some of the things the Colts did or Baltimore did. There’s a little bit of everything there.’’
While coach Caldwell wants to attribute the new system to ” a little bit of everything”, all indicators point to a Saints 2.0 in full development. Lets take a look at just how similar they are.
The Running Back Combo
The running back duo of Joique Bell and Reggie Bush each crossed the 500-yard receiving mark last season, making them the second- and third-leading receivers on the team.
The Saints had two running backs last season catch at least 70 passes. Pierre Thomas had 77 and Darren Sproles 71.
Eric Ebron to play the role of Jimmy Graham
Though both Graham and Ebron are listed on their respective rosters as tight ends neither play the position exculsivly. Graham sees a lot of snaps as a wideout and Ebron likely will too, especially in the slot.
In most cases Ebron will be covered by either the nickel back, safety, or the opposing team’s best cover linebacker. At any rate, it ends up being a very favorable matchup for Ebron.
Golden Tate/Lance Moore
On March 12, the Lions inked former Seattle Seahawks receiver Golden Tate to a five-year, $31 million contract with $13.25 million guaranteed. Tate, who hauled in 64 receptions for 898 yards and five touchdowns last season, is expected to be the No. 2 receiver Detroit has wanted for years.
In an interview with detroitlions.com, Tate said he views himself in a Lance Moore type role in Lombardi’s offense.
“I think this offense is going to fit better for me as a player than Seattle’s did. I watched some tape on the Saints over the last few years and just looking at that – I haven’t talked to Lombardi that much – I see myself being a Lance Moore type of player, but just more explosive and able to do a few more things.”
Moore would traditionally line up in the slot for New Orleans and was more of a down-field threat for Drew Brees, while Tate would usually line up on the outside. Seattle also designed a lot of screen plays for Tate, highlighting his playmaking abilities after the catch. Both Tate and Moore however, were two of the best in the league at running crossing routes over the middle of the field.
Considering all the pieces that Detroit has put into place, it’s hard not to invision the 2014 Lions offense resembling that of the New Orleans Saints of late. Add in of coarse, Calvin Johnson, and the promise of Matthew Stafford developing well under a great group of quarterback oriented coaches and the Lions could find themselves back in the playoff hunt in the NFC.