Offense a Key to Success

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Justin Vanfulpen -

PONTIAC - When you watch the Lions' pre-season games, most of the time, the offense was not impressive -- but the Lions have not displayed their entire package. They were waiting for Green Bay. The West Coast offense is a complex offense that keeps changing, and coaches continuously adding plays to keep the defense off-guard.

"There's a staple of West Coast plays, but if that's all you ran, you'd get stoned. Every coach runs different variations of those plays -- you keep adding to them and changing things. It's a constant process," said Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg. "The one thing that doesn't change is the philosophy behind it: timing, precision, accuracy and decision-making."

The Lions will attack down field, and when wide receiver Johnnie Morton was asked to describe his head coach's play calling, he had this response:

"He's an aggressive play caller, he likes to be aggressive, he likes to go after it."

The Lions' receivers will run deep routes in the new West Coast offense, and it won't just be for show.

"In most offenses, they're just routes to clear out the safety or an area, but in this offense, the quarterback might like the match-up and throw it to you," said Herman Moore.

But don't expect to see the Lions throwing the ball down field on every play. That just won't happen.

"We don't throw 'go' routes as many times in a game as another team, but our routes, on almost every play, have somebody running a post or a 'go' route and those are on alert. Those can be thrown at any time," said Mornhinweg.

One big key in the Lions new offense is the offensive line, the team made sure in this past off-season that they addressed that problem. Two of their top draft picks were offensive linemen in starting offensive tackle Jeff Backus and backup center Dominic Raiola, they also picked up starting guard Brenden Stai and back-up Matt Joyce in the free-agent market .

"Across the board, we're more talented. There's no doubt about it," said Lions president Matt Millen.

"I'm not worried about our offensive line at all," followed up Mornhinweg.

From last year's opening day starting offensive line, to this years, there is only one returning player and that is Aaron Gibson. But new starting center Eric Beverly, who did start 7 games last year, believes that the offensive line has jelled in the pre-season.

"We came together a lot and we've improved. I'm not saying we're a Pro Bowl offensive line, but I feel good going into Green Bay," said Beverly.

Two starters on the offensive line for Sunday only played in two pre-season games because of injuries, in right tackle Aaron Gibson and left guard Stockar McDougle.

"Obviously, we didn't get the meshing that we wanted, but we think we did an OK job for what we had," said Gibson.

The Lions' opening season matchup with the Packers is slated for 1:00 p.m. (EST) Sunday afternoon.

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