In 2021, the Detroit Lions' offense was one of the slowest teams from huddle to snap. According to Football Outsiders, in situation-neutral moments—when the game was still close and tempo wasn’t dictated by the game clock—the Lions averaged a play just every 32.64 seconds, fourth-slowest in the league.
However, it appears Lions head coach Dan Campbell is on a mission to fix that.
When asked what about the Lions' offense will look different this year now that Ben Johnson is the offensive coordinator, tempo was the first thing he noted.
“We’re going to be much more efficient just with how we get things in and out of the huddle,” Campbell said. “The ability to change our tempo will be big. Some of that just comes from verbiage alone, believe it or not. I just feel like everything is just going to be so much more streamlined.”
Simply being faster from huddle to snap does not necessarily correlate with more offensive efficiency. While some of the teams who fit in the most plays per second (Chargers, Cowboys, and Buccaneers) happen to be some of the most efficient offenses in the league, the same is true of some of the “slowest” offenses, including the Packers, Bengals, and 49ers.
However, the goal here isn’t just to get the snap off quickly. It’s to get lined up quickly, so you can put extra stress on the defense while still giving the offense time to make pre-snap reads and adjustments.
“Whether that’s with high tempo or not, could be we’re just back on the line,” Campbell explained. “No tempo, we’re not huddling, which that in itself puts stress on the defense.”
Last year, the Lions were often too late to break the huddle, leaving them no time to adjust. As a result, they were called for the second-most delay of game penalties in the NFL, per NFLPenalties.com.
Another benefit of breaking the huddle early is that you can keep the defense guessing by snapping early sometimes and taking your time in other scenarios.
“We want to be able to do everything and anything we can at any given time,” Campbell said. “I feel like what we’re implementing will allow us to do that. You just want to get to the point where you know that, offensively, you can do anything and everything in your arsenal to put stress on the defense.”
All in all, the Lions' offense looks to be quite different than last year. Just last week, wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown told the media that there is almost no rollover from last year’s offense. Change, in this case, is good, as the Lions finished 25th in scoring last year.