BleacherReport.com recently unveiled which records they think will be broken in 2012 and
they believe that the passing record broken by Drew Brees last year will be broken by Matthew Stafford in 2012.
Last season Matthew Stafford passed for 5,084 yards. Drew Brees broke Dan Marino’s passing record with 5,476 yards. BleacherReport believes Stafford will break the passing record because the Lions play in a dome, and because Matthew Stafford has the best receiver in the NFL in Calvin Johnson. Let’s see if this record is realistically breakable for Stafford next season.
Offensive Fire Power: The Lions have a plethora of talent on offense for quarterback Matthew Stafford to utilize. Stafford’s first option at receiver is Calvin Johnson, arguably the best receiver in the game today. When Johnson isn’t open the Lions surrounded Stafford with other valuable options in receivers Nate Burleson, Titus Young, and Ryan Broyles. Stafford also has one of the best duos at tight end in Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler.
To add to the offensive onslaught the Lions’ top two running backs Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure are returning from injury and should help open up the passing lanes for Stafford.
Defenses will try their best to contain the Lions’ passing game and will more than likely dare the Lions’ unproven run game to beat them. However, with the talent surrounding Stafford there may not be a defense that can effectively contain the Lions’ offense.
Offensive Line: The jury is still out on the offensive line. The Lions drafted their left tackle of the future in Riley Reiff in the first round, but there is still much work to be done on the aging offensive line. Last season the Lions were solid in terms of pass protection throughout the season, but at times tended to be dominated which resulted in too many three outs for the offense. The line also has to continue to hold off defensive pressure long enough for Calvin Johnson to run by defenders down field, as the deep ball to Johnson was the Lions’ best option last season and should continue to be the Lions’ best option this season.
If the line can keep Stafford upright, Stafford has a strong chance to break the pass record. However, the offensive line cannot be dominated they way they were at times last season (see Jared Allen who had six sacks in two games against the Lions).
Defense: The Lions have added depth to their roster, specifically in the secondary, which is viewed as the weakest group on the defense. Does adding depth to the secondary make the Lions a better defense? Not immediately, but the Lions’ are counting on continuity to strengthen their defense. The Lions’ return 10 of 11 starters on defense and have added Jacob Lacey who has starting experience with the Colts. Lacey should do an adequate job playing nickel corner and could possibly start some games as the Lions’ number two corner.
With added depth, continuity, and perhaps a few break out players in the secondary, the Lions defense could slow down opposing offenses enough to avoid the high scoring games the Lions played in last year, which could result in less opportunities for Stafford to throw as the Lions would be playing with the lead and running the ball more.
Verdict: The Lions have all the fire power for Stafford to break the passing record. However, if the defense improves the Lions should be able to keep scores low and milk the clock late in games with their potentially improved run game.
There are a lot of questions going into the 2012 season, but if the Lions improve in the run game, which is very likely as their top two running backs are returning from injury, and improve on defense with added depth in the secondary and continuity as a whole, I don’t see Stafford breaking the passing record. However, if the Lions find themselves in a similar situation as last year with injuries to key players in the run game and secondary, there is no question Stafford has the ability and weapons surrounding him to break the passing record.
Let’s hope Stafford doesn’t have the chance to break the passing record as it will more than likely be a result of a one dimensional offense, injuries, and/or poor defense.