ALLEN PARK - The Detroit Lions are going to make their offense into a more vertical one that will mean more motion, more offensive "looks" and an emphasis on playmaking down the field.
The new offensive philosophy will make the quarterback more responsible for getting the offense into the right set, throwing the ball downfield and making "chunk" plays.
New Lions offensive coordinator Ted Tollner told the media that Detroit will be adding portions of the St. Louis Rams spread offense and the Buffalo Bills "K-Gun" to their mix and that will put more emphasis on the quarterback to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage.
Tollner indicated Lions starting quarterback Joey Harrington will have more responsibility in the new-look offense. "We are going to try to do a variety of things to try to help him," Tolner told the media. "Number one, give him more opportunities to throw the ball downfield, to make that 20-yard chunk play, to be willing to work on that and make the calls in the game. Then he's got to make that throw."
The new emphasis on throwing the ball downfield could conceivably affect Detroit's search for another quarterback in free agency.
Lions head coach Steve Mariucci has indicated that he is looking for another player to either backup Harrington or beat him out for the starting position. Detroit may feel that other players are more suited to the scheme rather than former 49ers and Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia who appears to be the front runner to date.
Detroit has spoken with Garcia's agent but hasn't made an offer leading to speculation that they may have more interest in former Rams and Giants signal caller Kurt Warner.
Still, the focus is on Harrington, despite three sub-par seasons as the starter. "It isn't just Joey," said Tollner, "It could be a combination of things [such as] did he have enough time from the protection? Did they catch the football? Did he make the right decision? Was he accurate?' You add all those things up and you only need to make two or three more plays a game sometimes to win two or three more plays a game sometimes to win those close games," he said.
Tollner's first public comments on the subject reveal the direction he wants to take with the offense. How much of these ideas actually get into the Lions offensive play book will depend on the players Detroit has executing these ideas and how proficient they can become this offseason in implementing them into the offense.
April's post-draft mini camp will be the first glance at how these plays will look on the playing field.
Lions to expand offense in effort to make big play
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