Lions graduating to finer points of Lombardi offense

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Joe Lombardi

Rochester Hills — Lions players and coaches have discussed ad nauseam how much more comfortable they will be in Year 2 of offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's scheme.

At his youth football camp Thursday, wide receiver Golden Tate fittingly characterized the growth he and other players expect in 2015.

"We're not like a geometry class. We're like an AP class now," Tate said at Rochester Adams. "We're focusing on the details of the offense and defense and really dialing in, so I'm excited to see how far we can go."

Despite lofty expectations last season, the offense struggled throughout 2014, ranking 19th in yards and 22nd in scoring. Entering next season, the Lions think they have grasped the offense enough — and have the talent — to become a more consistent group.

"I just expect more production out of us," Tate said. "I think we need to be a lot better. We have the tools."

One of those tools, Tate said, is second-year tight end Eric Ebron, whom he expects to show great improvement when training camp begins Monday. Tate said he's also looking forward to seeing how the rookies, on offense and defense, acquit themselves.

Of course, if the Lions expect to be much farther along offensively this year, that could be an admission they were behind in the playbook last year. Tate said learning the expectations of the new coaches last year was difficult for him and the rest of the team, but now, he and his teammates know what coach Jim Caldwell wants.

"He doesn't have to preach the basics like finish, or the small things," he said. "Now, he can focus on the more advanced things of being a great team.

"We've got to come with our A-game, and we're trying to own our division."