The Lions officially ended their offseason Thursday with a two-hour practice and a batch of meetings to conclude the third and final day of a three-day minicamp. The players and coaches will break for more than a month before reconvening for training camp at the end of July.
When the team does get back together for the start of training camp, head coach Jim Schwartz expects them to be way ahead of where they’ve been in years past. “First couple days of OTAs we probably had as much as we installed in our entire OTA sessions in the first year,” he said. “I just think we’re in a little different spot as a team.”
The Lions return 21-of-22 starters and are entering the fourth consecutive season with the same offensive and defensive systems. It’s allowed the team to hit the ground running like the offseason was just the next week following that playoff loss to the Saints last year.
“We’re at a different point in our installation than we’ve ever been,” Schwartz said. “We have some new wrinkles. There are some new things we’re working on, but we’re not starting from scratch. There’s a lot of consistency and carryover that goes on there. We’re in a little better spot.”
But in only a way Schwartz could convey, he laid caution to the wind to not to look too much into how a team performs in the offseason. “It’s minicamp. It’s OTAs. It’s not football. It’s not even practice. Excuse me Allen Iverson,” Schwartz joked.
“We’re sort of installing and preparing to practice. It’s a hardworking team and I’m very pleased with our offseason. I think we had an outstanding offseason, but let me know when you get more than six points for a touchdown for having a good offseason.”
Schwartz isn’t letting himself get excited about what a team does in the offseason based on stuff that’s really not a true evaluation of talent and a true evaluation of where this team is and how good they can be this year. “We’ll find out more in training camp,” he said. “We’ll find out more in the preseason games. We’ll find out over the course of 16 regular season games.”
It’s hard to evaluate players when there’s no contact in the offseason. So its the implementation and installation of the scheme that is the most important part of the offseason. “We’re way ahead of where we were last year and the year before,” defensive tackle
It sounds like the Lions accomplished everything they wanted this offseason with a plan to hit the ground running in July and start working towards a second-consecutive playoff season.
“Just about every situation we’ll see in training camp we went through in the minicamp and OTAs,” Schwartz said. “We have a lot of different personnel packages on offense and defense. We got installation done. We have some new wrinkles installed. We accomplished a lot but a lot of it is just trying to get us into a position where we practice well in training camp and we prepare well for the season.”