Shortly after he was hired, Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell offered some insight into what the team’s defense will look like, but little has been said about what changes are coming to the offense under coordinator Anthony Lynn.
The last time Lynn spoke to the media, in early February, there was still a lot of uncertainty with the roster. In the weeks since, the Lions completed a quarterback swap that brought in Jared Goff, bolstered the offensive line, upgraded the backfield depth and completely turned over the starting receiving corps.
Now that the pieces are largely in place, Lynn has begun the installation of a hybrid offense, according to Goff.
“Yeah, it’s coming together,” Goff said Thursday. “I think the way he described it to us is multiple with spread principles. I think it’s going to have a little bit of what they did with (Justin) Herbert and the Chargers and a little bit of what he did in Buffalo. It’s a nice little mixture of it so far and it’s been good.
“We’ve been working through the installs right now, having some good Zoom meetings, but it’s been fun. Once we get on the field and are really able to see everything live, we’ll be able to get a really good grasp of it.”
The spread concepts, which Lynn utilized heavily his final season with the Chargers, will also be a throwback to Goff’s time at the University of California, where he primarily operated out of the shotgun and established a resume that led to him being selected No. 1 overall in the 2016 draft.
“I still think there’s a lot of that dialogue going on,” Goff said. “I think Anthony obviously has a great history and has a lot of knowledge, so I’ve been trying to give him what I know and what I’ve learned in my five or six — going into my sixth year now — in the league. And he’s been very receptive.
“It’s been awesome working with him so far, and him wanting to listen and wanting to hear from me, and at the same time, being open to that dialogue. It’s been really nice. It’s been cool.”
Vote of confidence
With the No. 7 pick of the 2021 draft, the Lions selected offensive tackle Penei Sewell out of Oregon. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a quarterback disappointed with the addition of a premier lineman prospect and Goff is no exception.
“Fired up,” Goff said. “When I saw we took Penei, I know the staff was fired up and so was I. Obviously, as a quarterback, any time you get help up front, that’s always good. We’ve got a lot of solid guys up there right now and I think it’s shaping up to hopefully be one of the top groups in the league. There’s obviously a lot of work to do and I know they know that, but there’s a lot of good players up there, and as a quarterback, that’s your best friend. So obviously I’m excited for it.”
To draft Sewell, the Lions passed up on other intriguing talent, namely Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who landed with NFC North rival Chicago after the Bears traded up nine spots to grab him.
Goff was asked if he got assurances from management that the team wouldn’t take a quarterback in the first round and seemed to acknowledge that was the case.
“Yeah, we had some talks before the draft, and, again, I think it’s a nice vote of confidence obviously for me,” Goff said. “I think what’s not lost on me is their first move as a staff, with Dan and (general manager) Brad (Holmes), involved me. It’s exciting and it makes you feel good.”
Learning new teammates
While it’s no substitute for a traditional practice, Goff has made an effort to get together and throw with a handful of his new teammates in California, including Breshad Perriman and T.J. Hockenson.
“I think, at the very least, just being on the field together at some capacity is helpful,” Goff said. “Yeah, working on some of our stuff, building chemistry with those guys, trying to understand what they like, what they don’t like, and vice versa, them understanding me. It’s just been good work. You always want to get on the field as much as possible and I hope to do that some more, as well.”
Goff is also hopeful to get some extra work in with rookie receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who was selected by the Lions in the fourth round of last weekend’s draft.
As a fellow Pac-12 alum and California native, Goff has had an eye on his newest target for some time.
“I’m really excited for Amon,” Goff said. “I was excited when I saw his name come off the board for us. I’ve seen him. Just being a fan of the Pac-12, I’ve seen him over the years play there. I know he went to Mater Dei (in Santa Ana, Calif.), as well. Just seeing him play over the years, always been a fan of his. Hopefully we can get some work soon and really see him in person.”
Raymond eager to prove himself
Earlier this offseason, Campbell noted that across the board the team’s free-agent additions had something to prove. That certainly holds true in the receiver room, where the team added two projected starters who have battled injuries during their careers in Tyrell Williams and Perriman. The description also applies to Kalif Raymond.
Undrafted out of Holy Cross in 2016, the Lions will be Raymond’s sixth team. It’s been a struggle for the 5-foot-8, 182-pound speedster to find a foothold in the NFL, but he’s eager to build off of last season with the Titans, where he played a career-high 417 snaps between offense and special teams, serving as the team’s primary return man.
“First and foremost, man, I think we’ve got a receiver room full of guys that have handled some kind of adversity,” Raymond said. “I think when you’ve got guys like that, guys come with a different level of grit, a different level of chips on their shoulders, it’s the same thing that molded me into the player, the man that I am today. I see a lot of that in the guys in the receiver room.
“Everybody in the NFL is big, everybody in the NFL is strong and everybody in the NFL is fast. I think that we have that coupled with the fact you’ve got some guys with grit. I’m really excited to see how this receiver room performs, man. Like I’ve been saying, I prepare myself. It’s been five years, I’m excited to see my game come to fruition. I think I’m ready.”
Offseason program schedule
The NFL announced dates for the remainder of each teams’ offseason program. For the Lions, the team will conduct its rookie minicamp from May 14-16, with OTAs from May 25-27, June 2-4 and June 14-17. The team’s three-day, mandatory minicamp will be sandwiched between the second and third set of OTAs, June 8-10.
Everything outside of the mandatory minicamp is voluntary. Earlier this offseason, the Lions veterans announced they would be skipping Phase I of the offseason program in April. It’s still unclear how many players intend on participating in the remaining voluntary portions between now and training camp.
“We’ve been working through it as a team,” Goff said. “We had a nice meeting as a team at first, and I know everyone’s got their own opinions and reasons. I believe we will get together at some point as a team. I don’t know where that will be, but every team is doing it differently this year and I think Dan has been awesome working with the players and finding out how we want to do things and really take care of us.”