Killer: Linehan already making his presence felt

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Lions Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan had a very solid performance in Saturday's preseason win over the Falcons, according to's Tom Kowalski.

Linehan's sharp coaching particularly manifested itself on screen plays in which the Lions gouged the Falcons for big yardage.

There were several occasions where Linehan smartly called screens into the teeth of an Atlanta blitz - the perfect defense to operate the screen. The Lions got a couple of big gainers out of that, including a 34-yarder to Allen Ervin.

Just as importantly, though, the Lions looked very good in the execution of the play. In recent years, the Lions were a terrible screen team because they always gave it away too early. By the quarterback's third drop step, everybody in the stadium knew what was coming. The Lions now sell the play much better and everybody's in on the act, including the quarterback, running back and offensive linemen.

A good screen game is fundamental to running or passing the ball. And it was something last year's team seemed to never get right (along with many other things).

I think Tom K. is right: The crispness and deceptiveness the Lions showed on the screen plays is a sign of good coaching, and players and coaches having a clue and a plan, doing things with a purpose. It was one of several small but good signs from preseason Game 1.

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