At this time a year ago, the Detroit Lions were in the process of looking for a new head coach. More specifically, they were looking for a coach who could take Matthew Stafford's game to another level, which in turn would help the Lions finally take their game to another level.
As it turned out, the Lions didn't necessarily need Stafford to elevate his play, at least from a statistical standpoint, in order to win 11 games and return to the playoffs. The Lions changed their overall identity in 2014 from a team known for its explosive offense to a team known for its tough defense. It would have been nice for the Lions to continue to have an explosive offense to go along with their dominant defense, but statistically speaking, the offense went in the wrong direction this season.
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew doesn't seem overly concerned with the direction of the offense, though. Yes, the Lions may have had a tougher time scoring points and racking up yards, but the flip side is that they did a much better job of protecting the ball. This different mindset on offense, combined with the Lions' outstanding play on defense, led to an 11-win season, and that's how Mayhew is choosing to look at the job offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and his unit did in 2014.
"I thought he did a really good job. I think all those stats are all nice and everything, but I'll take the 11 wins over the seven wins any day. We talked about that when we hired Coach Caldwell. A lot of you guys mentioned where the Ravens ranked offensively in terms of yards. I think those stats are nice, but it's important to win football games and I think that Joe did a good job preparing our offense to win games."
Clearly, the Lions don't feel that a change at offensive coordinator is necessary. Mayhew thinks the second year in Lombardi's system will go much more smoothly for the Lions, especially if they can actually keep their offensive linemen healthy for a change.
On the offensive line, Mayhew said only one player started every game. Said he'd like to see the group healthier next season.
— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) January 8, 2015
If the Lions can keep their starting five up front healthy and actually develop some chemistry on the offensive line, that will go a long way toward the offense improving. Plus, it won't hurt that the Lions will have a year of experience in Lombardi's system going into next season, and that should also lead to some improvement in 2015.