Stafford, Scheffler See Big Things In Detroit

Considered its Achilles heal, and one that featured a few key acquisitions since February, what the Lions do on the offensive side of the football will determine its success or failure in 2010. Tony Scheffler is a part of that.

With training camp fast approaching, most eyes will be on Detroit's offense.

Considered its Achilles heal, and one that featured a few key acquisitions since February, what the Lions do on the offensive side of the football will determine its success or failure in 2010.

A big part of that picture is tight end Tony Scheffler, who arrived via trade in April. He'll pair with second-year tight end Brandon Pettigrew in two-tight end sets, a specialty of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. The Western Michigan University product is hoping for the same success he experienced in Denver under coach Mike Shanahan.

Now entering his fifth season, Scheffler was essentially phased out in Denver's rebuilding under Josh McDaniels last season.

With the Lions, he's experiencing something of a rebirth.

"It's just moving around, creating mismatches -- something we kind of got away from last year in Denver," said Scheffler. "Coach Linehan is gonna find the guys that can win in situations and he's going to get them in those situations."

Scheffler is notorious for finding soft spots in opposing defenses. And because he's a more than adequate receiver, defenses are forced to acknowledge his presence when he's on the field. Pair him with Pettigrew, Calvin Johnson, and Nate Burleson, and you have the makings of a potent offense -- and a headache for any defensive coordinator.

"You have to treat him like a wide receiver when you flex him out wide or even from a tight-end spot," said Linehan. "We're gonna be in two-tight end sets a lot, and that's one reason why he's here. It gives us that dimension. And I'm real excited about adding him because he changes the game.

"He's a problem for the defense, he's a guy that puts points on the scoreboard and he's a great target for a great quarterback."

Second-year quarterback Matthew Stafford, who struggled with a lack of options during his rookie year, shouldn't have the same concerns with Scheffler and others providing support. As opposed to 2009, defenses can no longer focus solely on Calvin Johnson, while daring the another player to beat them -- because they will. Scheffler among them.

Rather than play to the demands of a defense, Stafford will have the opportunity to return the favor.

"It just makes defenses declare what they're going to do," Stafford said. "If they're going to play nickel against you, then you're going to run the football. If they play base (defense), then you've got good matchups with your tight ends and you can go to the passing game and expose it. If you've got guys that are athletic enough to block and run and catch then it puts defenses in a bind as to what kind of personnel they're going to put out on the field."

TheSportsXchange helped contribute to this report.


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