Lombardi plans to spread wealth in Lions’ new offense

It appears there's no longer such a need for Matthew Stafford to force-feed even Megatron anymore.

Andrew Weber

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions put such an emphasis on stock-piling offensive weapons, but there’s still only one football.

It’s offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s job now, along with quarterback Matthew Stafford, to figure out how to spread the wealth, beginning with Monday’s regular-season opener against the New York Giants.

"Best problem you can have," Lombardi said. "I’m never going to complain about that problem, I promise."

Stafford undoubtedly will throw the ball to Calvin Johnson whenever possible, but it appears there’s no longer such a need to force-feed even Megatron anymore.

"That’s not a recipe for success," Lombardi said.

His plan is to spread it around — and why not with the addition of receiver Golden Tate and hybrid tight end/receiver Eric Ebron?

Add in a playmaking running back like Reggie Bush, along with several other potential threats at the skill positions, and it appears the Lions could have a true pick-your-poison offense for opposing teams to try to contain.

The tough part for fantasy players is going to be identifying which of the Lions’ under-the-radar players will produce the most because it’s likely to change week to week, if not series to series, depending on the approach by the defense.

"You’ll see within certain schemes and how they (opponents) decide to attack you that one game one guy might catch six balls and the next game he may get two," coach Jim Caldwell said. "One game a guy may get 12, the next game he might get none. It depends on the situation."

Tate, who signed with Detroit as an unrestricted free agent, led the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks with 64 receptions for 898 yards and five touchdowns last season.

He believes he’s coming to a system that’s geared for him to excel.

"I think my numbers can be way better in this offense, just naturally how it’s set up," Tate said. "I was in the toughest division defensively with the 49ers, the Rams and the Cardinals, in a run-heavy offense (with the Seahawks).

"Now I’m going into a pass-happy offense where I’m also on the same team as one of the best players in the league (Johnson), who’s going to draw a lot of attention, a lot of double-coverage, which is going to leave me single coverages with a lot of No. 2 and No. 3 cornerbacks."

Assuming opponents put most of their focus on trying to stop Johnson and Tate, perhaps even Ebron, just think what that could mean for the Lions’ No. 3 receiver, whether it’s Ryan Broyles, Kevin Ogletree, Jeremy Ross or Corey Fuller.

"There’s enough balls for everyone," Tate said. "Megatron’s going to get his touches. I’m going to get my touches. Ross is going to get his. Broyles. I think everybody’s going to get their touches.

"Joe Lombardi is a very smart coach. He knows what he needs to do to get guys open and he knows what guys do best."

Ogletree, who had a strong offseason but wasn’t as productive in the preseason games, can’t wait to be a part of it all because that third receiver could have an opportunity to make a major impact on some games with a timely play or two.

"We’re trying to keep that a secret so I’m not going to expound upon that," Ogletree said, smiling.

Kris Durham, who finished third on the team in receptions by a wide receiver last season, couldn’t even make the 53-man roster this time.

That’s largely because Fuller, a sixth-round pick last year who spent his rookie season on practice squad, has emerged as a legitimate downfield option. He caught two touchdown passes in the four preseason games.

"The guy made plays," Caldwell said. "He’s growing and developing. He’s got speed, he’s got length and he’s hungry."

Broyles, a second-round pick in 2012, led the team in receptions during the preseason with 11 for 144 yards while looking as if he’s fully recovered from surgery last year for a torn Achilles’ tendon.

That injury came after he had torn the anterior cruciate ligament in both knees, all of which left many wondering if he would ever be the same again.

"His run after the catch was very good," Caldwell said. "He showed he recovered from his injuries. He showed his explosion."

Broyles’ confidence is surging.

"Best I’ve felt, best I’ve played," he said.

The solution to finding enough touches to keep all of these guys content seems relatively easy. Just win.

Winning has a way of taking care of most ego problems.

Ebron, Tate and the rest of the group insist that the stats won’t matter.

"We’re not worried about it," Ebron said. "As long as we’re winning, as long as everybody’s doing their part, we could care less."


— Linebacker Kyle Van Noy, the team’s second-round draft pick, was placed on the short-term injured list, forcing him to miss at least the first eight games.

 Van Noy, who underwent surgery last week for a core-muscle injury, will be eligible to return to practice after six weeks. The first game that he could play in will be against Miami on November 9.

The Lions re-signed defensive end Darryl Tapp to replace Van Noy on the 53-man roster.

— Safeties James Ihedigbo (undisclosed injury) and Don Carey (hamstring) didn’t practice again Tuesday. Their status for Monday night remains unclear.