Lions aim to find comfort level with new offense

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park — The transition to Joe Lombardi's offense has been far from perfect for the Lions.

■Their five turnovers are tied for fifth-most in the NFL.

■They rank 25th in rushing yards (87).

■They're tied for 22nd in scoring (20.3 points).

But, they're No. 6 in passing yards (277.3) even though Matthew Stafford is 21st in rating (84.1). He's completing 62.3 percent of his passes, which is 24th in the NFL.

Still, despite the early struggles, the Lions are 2-1.

"The more and more comfortable we get with this offense and with each other in these new spots, the better we're going to be," Stafford said Wednesday.

This week's matchup against the Jets might not help them out of the funk, either. The Jets are second in total defense (268.3 yards, 55 rushing).

Lombardi's offense has looked complex.

In last weekend's 19-7 victory over the Packers, the Lions substituted three players on just about every play in the first three quarters.

Receivers, running backs and tight ends also will line up in different spots play to play. While the constant adjustments give the opposing defense problems, it's also taken time to find a comfort level.

"It definitely took some getting used to," Stafford said. "It's tough to practice in training camp because you don't know who's going to be on your final roster, you don't know where exactly you're going to put guys.

"But week in and week out, we're getting more and more comfortable with it, and guys are, like I said, understanding their roles."

The Lions offense had 417 yards in a 35-14 victory over the Giants in Week 1, but the Giants rank 22nd in total defense and are tied for 25th in scoring defense (25.7 points).

Against the Panthers in Week 2, the Lions had 323 yards, but two missed field goals and three turnovers in a 24-7 loss.

Last week against the Packers, the Lions had 353 yards, but Stafford threw two interceptions and lost a fumble in the red zone. The offense scored one touchdown in the victory.

"I think one of the things is it'd look a little bit different to you if you don't turn the ball over," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. "We turned the ball over the last couple games, which took away drives."

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson isn't worried about the slow start.

"I know how explosive we can be and how explosive we should be when we're out there," he said. "It's just a matter of continuing to have good practices, and those things will translate to the field."

On Wednesday, Caldwell said he's been a part of high-flying offenses that have struggled. In 2009, his Colts, who finished 14-2, had some bumps along the way.

In Week 1, the Colts scored 14 in a victory over the Jaguars. In Week 8, they scored 18 in a victory over the 49ers.

"Do you think we panicked?" Caldwell said. "Do you think that we lost faith in what we were doing? No, and that's the exact same way I feel now."

Lions at Jets

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

TV/radio: Fox/97.1

Records: Detroit 2-1, New York 1-2

Line: Pick 'em

Series: Tied 6-6 (Detroit 23-20, OT, Nov. 7, 2010)

Did you know? The Lions are No. 1 in total defense after three weeks — but the Jets are No. 2.