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New Lions offensive coordinator preaches balanced attack

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- No one took Mike Martz's name in vain on Thursday.

They didn't have to.

Lions coach Rod Marinelli introduced two newly promoted assistants -- offensive coordinator Jim Colletto and assistant head coach/passing game coordinator Kippy Brown -- and the trio made it clear that Martz's complicated offensive scheme was a thing of the past.

"The philosophy of the team is going to be a balanced attack," Colletto said. "I want an offense that can run the ball and throw the ball."

Martz took some shots at the Lions on his way to accepting the offensive coordinator job in San Francisco, saying they "weren't even close," but Marinelli wasn't about to fire back.

"I learned a lot from Coach Martz, and I'm glad he came here to give us a boost two years ago," Marinelli said. "I wish him nothing but the best in San Francisco, and I think that will be a great job for him."

Under Martz, the Lions were criticized for neglecting the running game in favor of an overly complex system that exposed Jon Kitna to too many sacks.

"I've been coaching offensive linemen for 42 years, so I'm always going to favor things that protect the linemen," Colletto said. "Last year, we just had too much in the system, and we couldn't do it all. This year, we will find the thing that we can hang our hat on and build from there.

"We're definitely going to be running the ball more," he added.

Colletto shied away from announcing Kitna as the unquestioned starter going into 2008, saying things would work out in training camp, but Marinelli didn't hesitate.

"Jon finished the season as our starter, and he goes into this season as our starter," Marinelli said. "Obviously, things can change. Guys lose their jobs all the time. But Jon's our starter."

Colletto will focus on the running game, leaving Kitna and the receivers to Brown. The idea of reforming an unbalanced offense is nothing new to Brown, who had to do the same thing when he worked for Jimmy Johnson in Miami.

"Before we got there, they had a system where they threw it around a lot with Dan Marino, and Jimmy wanted to change that," Brown said. "We were able to do that, but it took a sales job to convince all of the players that it was a good idea."

Colletto and Brown both were promoted from the current staff -- Colletto had been coaching the offensive line and Brown the wide receivers -- and Marinelli thought that was the most important part of the move.

"By hiring inside, I know that I'm hiring two men that have philosophies that are very close to my own," he said. "This lets the players see the same coaches, which gives us continuity. Our players have already been through the fire with these men."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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