Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan made it clear what he thinks will be different with the Lions' offense with QB Shaun Hill at the helm.
"Nothing at all. Nothing changes," he said.
The Lions will turn to Hill, who has a 10-6 career record as a starter, until QB Matthew Stafford's shoulder is healed. It could be 4-6 weeks, but sources say that Stafford might miss up to eight weeks.
Linehan knows Hill well, spending three years coaching him with the Vikings and recommended the team go after the ninth-year veteran in the offseason.
"Shaun has a gift of making everything work," Linehan said. "He has his background in this system with me, which helps him; it's an adjustment with these players that he's been working with quite a bit. He threw to them all preseason and in practice though, so he's very, very comfortable with what we're doing and I can't wait to see Shaun get out there and give it another shot to start. It's not his first rodeo."
The worst part of the injury to Stafford, though, might be the timing. The Lions face the Eagles, Vikings and Packers in the next three games, with the two divisional contests coming on the road. Unless Stafford makes an unheard-of recovery, he'll miss all three.
What makes Hill's first start even more difficult is that the run game struggled overall in the opener against the Bears, even though rookie Jahvid Best had two nice TD runs. Linehan said that the blockers didn't "create enough space" to open holes for Best and Co. So unless they do so against the Eagles, defending Hill will be a lot easier for Philly.
One thing that Lions pass catchers noticed right away this offseason was the difference between the ball speed of Stafford and Hill. Stafford has one of the league's stronger arms; Hill would be considered to have average arm strength.
"There aren't that many people that throw the ball like Matthew does from a velocity standpoint and those kinds of things," Linehan said, "but Shaun does it a different way and he gets it done a different way by running the same plays."