Detroit Lions will join NFL’s latest trend: The no-huddle offense

Chip Kelly developed a unique brand of quick-passing, fast-paced offense that turned him into one of the country’s greatest novelties at Oregon.
The Ducks rattled off plays faster than just about anybody, scored more than just about anybody and won more than just about anybody during the Kelly era.

Then he made the jump last offseason to the Philadelphia Eagles, and the NFL watched with great intrigue to see how his system would fare against the more cerebral defenses of the professional ranks.
Was Kelly’s brand of no-huddle attack a college gimmick? Or the wave of the future?

He’s ended up being a smash hit, as the Eagles’ offense soared into the top five. Kelly turned a 4-12 team into a 10-6 outfit, won the NFC East and captured the organization’s first playoff berth since 2010.
Suddenly time of possession — which the Eagles finished last in — is becoming an irrelevant metric. Plays per game is the latest NFL sensation, as offenses play faster and faster. More are starting to ditch the huddle.

And the Detroit Lions could be the latest team to join that trend.
New coach Jim Caldwell said this week he plans to install the no-huddle offense as a regular component of his scheme.

“Tempo, more so than anything else, is a weapon,” Caldwell said this week. “You use it every single ballgame at some point in time (anyway). The 2-minute offense, before the half, end of game and those kinds of things. If it’s part of your package, it’s a little bit easier in that realm, and it’s a very, very important realm.

“Sometimes you’ll employ it at different points in the game when the opposition doesn’t expect it. And when you do, it does put pressure on them.”

The Lions have completely revamped their offensive braintrust after firing coach Jim Schwartz and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. And they’ve brought in guys experienced with big-time offenses.

Caldwell has a reputation for cultivating quarterbacks after working for a decade with Peyton Manning. His offensive coordinator will be former Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi, who has worked with Drew Brees for seven years and has been at the fore of offensive innovation.

It remains unclear exactly what the new offense will look like, or even who will call the plays. But Detroit already was fifth in plays per game last season (68.9), and could rattle off even more next year with a faster, more aggressive philosophy.

The Lions won’t mimic Philadelphia’s pace, which is break neck almost all the time. They are expected to deploy the no-huddle more as a changeup rather than as a base scheme.

But when Detroit does go no-huddle, the objective will be the same: To put defenses in unfavorable situations because they can’t substitute quite how they would like.

More no-huddling likely also means more audibling for quarterback Matthew Stafford, and Caldwell has no problem with that. It’s another tool for putting the defense in a bad position before the ball is even snapped.

“The audible is a big part of the game now because of the fact you get so many multiple defenses that change,” Caldwell said. “You can call a play, but you don’t have any idea what the defense is going to be. The guy standing behind the center does, because of the fact he can wait you out until he sees exactly what he wants.

“He can manipulate you into showing what (defenses are) going to play, and therefore get into a better angle, get you out of a bad play, those types of things. I think those things are necessary.”

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