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Allen Park — The Lions know their offense needs to improve. Through 10 games, the team ranks 26th in the NFL, averaging just 18.8 points per game.

The question is, though, whether the Lions can improve an offensive unit that hasn't scored more than 24 points in a game since Week 1 in time for Sunday's matchup against a New England Patriots team averaging 32.3 points. Play calling has been an issue at times this year, but ultimately, the players have said a lack of execution has led to the struggles.

Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi hopes he's found a way to improve both as this week he'll trim the playbook by about 20 percent. By practicing fewer plays, Lombardi expects the players to know the calls better and have a better chance to execute at a high level.

"You have a certain number of calls and maybe you get this one play repped against one or maybe two defenses," he said Thursday. "So if you have less calls, you can kind of show them more situations and you're not just talking about them. It's just a matter of practicing fewer plays, and then they're able to handle all the different looks that might come up."

The Patriots rank 13th in the NFL, allowing 21.8 points per game, and held the potent Denver and Indianapolis offenses to 21 and 20 points, respectively, their last two games.

Coach Bill Belichick is notorious for exploiting teams' weaknesses and disguising defensive schemes, so Lombardi is trying to ensure the Lions will be as precise as possible.

While execution has been the biggest problem, Lombardi said he needs to find ways to make it easier for the players, and he hopes paring down the play sheet will help.

"As a coach you have to take responsibility and say hey, we need to coach it better," he said.

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/jkatzenstein

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