Stafford, offense tasked with play-intensive scheme

Posted Jun 1, 2014

After five seasons in the same system, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is going back to school.

After five seasons in the same system, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is going back to school.

New head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterback coach, receiver, tight end and scheme -- nothing like a little summer school at the age of 26.

“This is a play intensive, verbiage intensive offense and it’s something that’s going to take time,” Stafford said. “The biggest thing right now is making sure we’re lining up correctly, running correct routes and mastering it as we go, but at the same time making sure that we’re not thinking out there, we’re just lining up and playing.

Matthew StaffordQB Matthew Stafford (Photo: Detroit Lions)

“That’s what the offseason is for. Everyone is out here working and we’ve got great attendance. Guys are here to learn.”

But learning Joe Lombardi’s play-intensive scheme is going to take some time.

In years past, Stafford and the offense would hit the ground running in OTAs because everything came second nature to them. This year, more footballs have been hitting the ground.

Even the defense has taken notice, but linebacker DeAndre Levy said that’s to be expected.

“It’s easier to learn a new defense than a new offense,” Levy admitted. “We can just run around to the ball.”

There may be moments of frustration now, but Stafford says he can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“The potential is there, obviously, to be a really good offense, just because of the talent we have in the room and the coaches we have and the scheme,” Stafford said. “But it’s on us as coaches and players to get this thing mastered and we’re a ways from that. There’s no question.”

The good thing is it’s early, and games don’t start counting for more than three months. Kinks get ironed out in May and June, with the hope of getting to work come August with evaluations and competitions as the top priority.

Lombardi expects the bumps in the road he’s seeing now to be gone in July, August and most certainly September.

“I think it’s dependent on all the players on offense,” Lombardi said of how quickly the offense will become second nature. “You know, we kind of started off with a pretty high volume of information that we gave them, probably a little too much. So, we’re drawing back a little bit.”

Lombardi isn't dialing anything back for Stafford, however.

“Certainly Matt (Stafford) can handle as much as you can give him,” Lombardi said. “He’s really remarkably bright.

“I’ve heard that he was a smart player, but the speed and ease with which he picks things up has even surprised me, and I had pretty high expectations coming in. So, I think he’s doing really well.”

The question now is how long will it take for the rest of the offense to follow suit?