Entering 2013, Matthew Stafford has a lot to prove, and he might not have all that much time to do it. Yes, he’s the Lions’ unquestioned quarterback, but that can change quickly with a new regime, and like it or not, Stafford may have more barring on the Lions’ season than any other person in the organization.
Probably the Lions’ biggest offensive problem that has slowed Stafford down has been their inability to run the football. Reggie Bush was brought in as a weapon, but it’s unclear how much production the team will get from him in the running game.
The problem that Stafford does have more control over is his turnover to touchdown ratio. Last year, Stafford turned the ball over 18 times (17 INTs, 1 fumble) to just 20 touchdowns. Two seasons ago, Stafford through for 71 more yards than he did in 2012, but his touchdown rate was more than doubled.
The Lions’ elephant in the room is that they move the ball through the air at an incredible pace, but they don’t have the wins to show for it. In the NFL, it’s now a cliché to hear that you must pass the ball and stop the pass. The Lions pass the ball, but they don’t cash in when they need to.
Whether it’s his own fault, the coaches’ faults or the rest of the players’ fault, the Lions’ offense started slow nearly every game in 2012, and it put them in a hole that was often too much to dig out from.
With Reggie Bush, the Lions should have more support in the running game, and if they can open the defense up with some runs, Stafford should be able to hit some quick-strike touchdowns to break games open. That’s the way the plan should work, but it ultimately comes down to Matthew Stafford’s ability to make wise decisions and find points where he can.
There’s no doubt that Stafford will be the Lions’ quarterback in 2014 and moving forward, but a change in regime would change everything. Stafford would be learning a new system, and he’d likely be losing many of his veteran teammates. That’s rarely a combination for success. So, like so many other teams in the league, this is it. If the Lions fall flat again, look for new management to lead the team in a different direction.