The Detroit Lions have seen some major offensive changes in recent seasons, and that’s going to be the case in 2021 once more as they transition to Anthony Lynn as coordinator.
Lynn comes from a different mindset given the personnel he likes to work with, and with the Lions, he could be expected to bring that same approach to the team. But what will the offense look like? Without much time this offseason to get a feel so far, many folks are trying to hypothesize what the team might do.
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Writer Conor Orr of Sports Illustrated asked the most important burning offseason questions for NFL teams in a piece, and as he said, finding out what offensive identity the Lions and Lynn plan to have will be something to consider moving forward.
“Each of the past two years, Lynn’s offenses in Los Angeles were heavily based out of the 11 personnel grouping (three receivers, one tight end). The split between 11 personnel and the Chargers’ next-most utilized formation was drastic. However, it’s interesting that in both years, the Chargers were top-10 in 21 personnel, or the usage of a fullback, running back and two wide receivers. The Lions signed Darren Fells this offseason from Houston, giving the team another top blocking right end to go with T.J. Hockenson. Few teams, save for the Colts, have that many good run-blocking tight ends on the roster. It shows that Lynn isn’t afraid of working with heavier sets (his background as a running back for the Mike Shanahan Broncos adds to that hypothesis) and that his personnel may align around something far different than what we’ve seen from the Lions—or Lynn—in the past.
Expectations for the Lions’ offensive line are high after the acquisition of Penei Sewell. But their ancillary pieces (good blocking tight ends, potential top-10 offensive line, deep-ish running back depth chart and a quarterback not known for operating autonomously) lead us to believe that we could see more 21 personnel, or perhaps 12 personnel (two tight ends), which the Chargers ran on about 12% of their snaps last year.”
The Lions might prefer to take the air out of the ball a little bit and use more play action and heavy sets given their strengths, so it would not be a shock to see this be the offensive plan out of Lynn once the season begins.
Lynn Interested in Winning on Offense
Many have wondered if the Lions will be more run-heavy given Campbell’s desire for toughness. Others have maintained that Campbell might want to pass the ball more given his experience with the New Orleans Saints as an assistant coach lately.
The man who will determine what really happens is Lynn, and while many might speculate about what Detroit’s offense may look like, it’s harder to get an idea of what Lynn could want to do. As he explained when speaking with the media, the answer to that question is pretty obvious from a coaching standpoint.
What type of offense will the Lions have? It doesn’t really matter as long as it’s one that helps the team win some games most of all.
In reality, that’s exactly what offense should be about. Many will try to claim the Lions should be one thing or another, but the team simply needs to find the right balance on the field to make them winners. Whether that involves throwing the ball multiple times or running the ball multiple times shouldn’t exactly matter.
Lynn is smart enough to know that his career in the city will be determined by wins and losses and nothing else, so it’s smart that he believes the approach to win will be whatever the given game should dictate on offense.
Jared Goff Excited for Input With Lions
Perhaps the best thing that Lynn has done is empower Goff within the new Detroit offense. If there’s one thing Goff seems to be the most pleased about early on in Detroit, it’s his ability to collaborate with the team and their decision makers within the offensive plan. As he explained, he feels as if the Lions and their staff have been empowering him to make decisions and get more involved in the offensive planning.
Goff likely never felt completely trusted in Los Angeles, and with McVay calling the shots for the offense, it’s true he likely had little impact on what the Rams did from an offensive standpoint. Now, Goff is very happy that his new coaches are allowing him to get involved and make an imprint on his new team and offense.
What that offense will look like is still a mystery overall, but given the struggles of the Lions the last few seasons, the team would be hard-pressed to be any worse.