Lions: Execution, not Lombardi’s new view, ignites ‘O’

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
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Detroit — Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi called plays from the coaches’ booth on the seventh floor of Ford Field on Sunday, the first time he hasn’t been on the field for a game since the team hired him in 2014.

The Lions beat the Bears, 37-34, in overtime Sunday, but after the game, players and coach Jim Caldwell pointed to improved execution as the main reason for the victory, not the change with Lombardi.

“I didn’t even notice it until late in the game,” wide receiver Lance Moore said. “It’s funny because that’s something that you guys (the media) will make a big deal about, but I didn’t notice it. It worked, so we’ll probably keep doing it.”

Really, the only player impacted by the switch was Stafford, who heard the calls in his helmet relayed from quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter, who was on the field, instead of Lombardi, who called the plays to Cooter. Stafford said the only difference he noticed was “just a Tennessee, country twang coming into the ear.”

“I thought we played well on offense,” said Stafford, who threw for season highs of 405 yards and four touchdowns. “I’m not sure that had anything to do with the game. I think we went out and we executed better, and that helps us win.”

Lombardi’s preference was to sit in the booth, but the team decided to keep him on the field last year as the players adjusted to a new scheme. The plan was to make the switch after a win, but the Lions made the change at 0-5, which is why it might be a bigger story than it actually is.

“It was one of those things that Joe had really wanted to go up there previously, and, so, it just so happened it kind of made sense at this particular time and it just changed his vantage point a little bit,” Caldwell said.

Asked why it made sense to make the change now, Caldwell declined to provide details.

“Because it did,” he said before explaining that the execution was more important than any changes with where coaches watch the game. “If it was that easy to do that, we certainly wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in if it was that simple.”

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