The Detroit Lions want to run the ball in 2019. The point has been hammered home repeatedly this offseason.
"We'll always be about running the football," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell reiterated Tuesday, via the Detroit Free Press. "We want to be a tough, hard-nosed, physical football team. We want to be able to exert our will on our opponents."
It's all well and good to be an efficient running team in a league in which the pass has become a more proficient means of moving the football. The New England Patriots proved down the stretch last season a diverse approach to offense is the ideal standard, when they bowled over opponents with a road-grading rushing attack en route to the Super Bowl.
We know Detroit wants to run the ball. The question most have is what the passing game will look like when Matthew Stafford is allowed to throw the pigskin.
"We want to be explosive in the passing game. When we throw the ball, we want to be able to throw it down the field and get big plays," Bevell said, via the team's official website.
Utilizing Stafford's arm strength to stretch the field makes more sense than the dink-and-dunk operation the Lions employed last season. Stafford's best asset is his ability to fit the ball into tight windows down the field. Pigeonholing the quarterback into a system that didn't play to his greatest strength made little logic last year.
Employing a field-stretching passing game also plays to the skill set of its top two receivers, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, who are at their best on downfield sideline catches. Stretching the field on the outside, theoretically, would then open the middle of the field for rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson and slot wideout Danny Amendola.
In an ideal world for the Lions, Bevell's offense would look similar to what he employed during his time with the Seattle Seahawks: a strong run game with a downfield passing attack. Bevell noted it's "not going to look exactly the same as it did in Seattle," but his main goal is to differentiate his offense from the rest of the NFL.
"It is different for the opponent," Bevell said. "If you're playing the Rams and the Chiefs and those teams week in and week out, they're defending the same thing. All of a sudden you play us, there's going to be different things to defend and they have to decide how they want to do it, if they're going to have to personnel it different. I think it kind of gives you a little bit of an edge that way."