NEW YORK -- What can Matthew Stafford expect from new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi?
Lombardi's impact on Stafford and the Lions offense will be one of the big storylines this offseason in Detroit.
One man, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, probably knows the answer to that question better than anyone. Brees has, in fact, spent the last seven years with Lombardi in New Orleans, the last four years with Lombardi as his quarterback coach.
"A guy that's going to coach him," Brees said of what Stafford can expect. "A guy that's going to be very willing to include him with a lot of input.
"I think the mark of a good coordinator and play caller offensively is taking your personnel, taking what they do best, and putting them in the best positions to succeed according to their strengths.
"I know when I came in with Sean Payton, the first thing he did was say, ‘What do you like? What are you good at? Because whatever that is, if it's not in the offense now, we're going to put it in this offense.'"
Brees thrived under Lombardi's guidance the last four seasons, completing 68.1 percent of his passes for 19,661 yards with 156 touchdowns and a 101.4 passer rating. He's been selected to the Pro Bowl each of those seasons.
"I'm sure Joe is looking at a ton of film on those guys and saying, ‘Alright, here's some stuff you guys do really well, and Stafford, you seem to have a real feel for it. This stuff is staying in. Then how about some ideas of what we've done here.'
"I'm sure they're going to be looking at our film and it becomes kind of a blend. That's what happens when coordinators go from one place to the next. It kind of becomes a blend of the two."
It's unclear if head coach Jim Caldwell or Lombardi will ultimately call plays for the Lions on Sundays, but Brees said Stafford will no doubt benefit from Lombardi's presence throughout game week, the same way he did.
"I love Joe," Brees said. "He's going to be missed. He was integral in our quarterback room as far as game planning goes, as far as install, as far as just a presence. A guy who is super knowledgeable about the game.
"I think his exposure to Sean Payton's offense was great. I feel like we're always right on the cutting edge of creativity with what we were able to do with our personnel and I see some similarities to what Detroit has with their offensive personnel. I'm sure he's going to be able to be very creative with those guys."
Stafford, like Brees, has a 5,000-yard passing season under his belt. Stafford, Brees (4), Dan Marino, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are the only players to accomplish the feat in NFL history.
Maybe a more important statistic that accompanied that 5,000-yard season for Stafford in 2011, though, was his 41 touchdowns. That total has dipped to 20 and 29 the last two seasons ... both seasons in which the Lions have failed to make the playoffs.
The Lions want to be more efficient on offense and Brees said one of Lombardi's strengths was the preparation put in during the week leading into Sundays.
"I think in regards to thought process," Brees said of how Lombardi helped his career. "We have conversations throughout the week on protection and thought process on certain concepts on timing of when certain things get called.
"It allows you to see things from maybe a different perspective. Maybe, too, add certain elements into your though process that maybe weren't there before that help you be more efficient."