- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Detroit Lions reporter
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions quarterbacks made a rule for Sunday and if coaches and players from Joe Lombardi's former team, the New Orleans Saints, want to cost him some money, all they need to do is give him a hug.
That's the potential fine for the Detroit Lions offensive coordinator. For every hug he receives against his former team, that's a drop in the fine bucket for the coach.
"I'm going to try to keep those to a minimum," Lombardi said. "Just try to wave and shake hands."
One player Lombardi might be willing to take a fine for, though, is his old quarterback, Drew Brees. The coach and player spent seven years together with the Saints. Won a Super Bowl and have mutual admiration from each other.
And in a situation where the coach is supposed to teach the quarterback, Lombardi insists he might have learned more from Brees than Brees did from Lombardi. They are lessons he uses now, in his first stint as an NFL offensive coordinator, about preparation and putting together a plan.
"He had a routine and he was just consistent," Lombardi said. "This is what he was going to do Monday at this time. This is what he was going to do Tuesday and just the way he attacked the week and got himself ready for Sunday, it's impressive.
"Certainly everyone is trying to do that but the way with which he did, the detail with which he did it was impressive."
Lombardi answered similarly when asked what he took from his former boss, Sean Payton, as well. The level or preparation. The focus on going over everything and not skimping on something if it seems like it might not have meaning. Well, to Payton, it did and he prepped for it.
Lombardi, so far, says he's the same way.
And both Brees and Payton understood that as Lombardi learned, he was eventually going to leave them when he got his own opportunity. That came this season in Detroit, when he chose to work under new Lions coach Jim Caldwell.
"I just think so highly of him and I knew it was only a matter of time before he got an opportunity to be a coordinator, to be a play caller and obviously we'd lose him," Brees said. "But certainly he's missed and have so much respect for him and I know he's going to be very successful."
While the Lions have had team success so far this season, the offense has struggled. Lombardi is still learning the role of coordinator and learning when to take chances and when to be conservative.
And this week, he downplayed how much impact his time with the Saints would have on game planning -- mostly because when he met with other coaches, they already knew what he was going to tell them.
He also downplayed what this game will mean to him -- with one caveat. He saw what happened when former Lions coach Jim Schwartz faced Detroit earlier this month with his new team, the Buffalo Bills, when the Buffalo players carried Schwartz off the field.
Yes, Schwartz's exit was more acrimonious and one-sided than Lombardi's promotion from quarterbacks coach in New Orleans to offensive coordinator with the Lions, but one thing he made clear.
There will be no carrying of the coach on Sunday.
"I wouldn't allow that," Lombardi said.
The hugs, though? That he might not have much choice over.
The Lions made a rule for Sunday and if Joe Lombardi's former coaches and players want to cost him money, all they need to do is give him a hug.