On Friday night, the Detroit Lions fell to the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 27-23 in the first preseason game of the year, but the team did find some positives in the contest. One of the best glimpses of hope came from the starting offense. The Lions started the game with possession, and took advantage of it with a methodical drive. The Lions’ offensive line was able to establish a major push in the running attack, while also protecting quarterback Jared Goff when he dropped back to pass. The 79-yard, five-minute drive was capped off by a 9-yard touchdown run by running back D’Andre Swift. This impressive drive by the first-team offense was very structured and meticulous. Much of this success should be attributed to first year offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. Johnson’s play calling had a nice balance of both run and pass, consisting of six runs and four passes, allowing the offensive line to lead the charge. Ben Johnson, promoted to offensive coordinator after serving as tight ends coach last season, was an unofficial pass game coordinator before the last nine weeks of the season. Johnson’s system produced a more consistent offense. Head Coach Dan Campbell took over play calling duties from offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn halfway through last season. Whether Campbell or Johnson will be the main play caller is still in question. Campbell has stated that the role will be established before Week 1. One of the main concerns with Campbell as play caller is his tendency to go for it on fourth down. While teams never show their actual schemes in preseason games, it is important to implement identity early on in a season. The run-pass balance seen versus the Falcons will be the identity of the Lions’ offensive this upcoming season. Based on the one drive on Friday, the main offensive play caller should be Ben Johnson. He has a vision for this offense, and will give this team identity that they did not have last year under both Lynn and Campbell.
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