By now, most have seen the reports that the Detroit Lions fear Calvin Johnson could miss Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings with an ankle injury that limited him last weekend.
That news may be good for the Vikings and their defense, but it’s not good news for Matthew Stafford. Detroit’s quarterback looked completely lost without his best receiver Sunday. Add to that the loss of safety valve Reggie Bush and the quarterback was even more under fire and flustered.
In the second half, the Lions failed to move the ball at all. Their offense, which had appeared solid at times early in the year, looked lost. Having a suddenly porous offensive line can do that, in addition to losing both Johnson and Bush as well as Joique Bell, but the question nobody’s asking about the debacle lingers and will continue to persist the rest of this year.
More from Lions News
- Top 5 revenge games on the Detroit Lions 2023 schedule
- Lions center Frank Ragnow optimistic about continuing to play through toe injury
- Detroit Lions 2023 preseason schedule: Dates, times and opponents
- A new contract extension projection for Lions quarterback Jared Goff
- Louis Riddick thinks Lions wide receivers will be fine without Jameson Williams
What did Stafford himself do to make the tough situation better?
The answer: nothing. Detroit’s signal caller still had an excellent Golden Tate at his disposal, in addition to Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew and Jeremy Ross. Not a bad group to start with. Otherwise, he had Corey Fuller, who has gotten his feet wet in the league and a tough running George Winn. The cupboard wasn’t entirely bare by any means. Yet still, Detroit’s offense failed.
In situations where Stafford is void of Johnson, his superstar talent, the quarterback continues to look below average and confused on the field. That’s a problem. If Stafford wants to be considered elite, he has to start by making the players he does have better, before even worrying about winning big games, making the playoffs or winning a Super Bowl. One can never happen without the other.
If Stafford wants to be considered elite, he has to start by making the players he does have better, before even worrying about winning big games, making the playoffs or winning a Super Bowl.
Quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have been doing it for years. Who were players such as Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzalez, David Patten and David Givens before them? Who were they after? Both certainly had their stars, but have seemed to make a living off improving everyone else. Elite quarterbacks have the unique ability to raise the game of anyone around them, from unproven players to rookies to under-appreciated veterans.
During his time in Detroit, Stafford hasn’t developed one such connection outside Johnson. By always bending over backward to surround him with talent, the Lions have never asked him to truly become elite on his own. When he’s been forced to adapt and play that way, though, it hasn’t materialized. That’s on the quarterback, who’s now six years in to his professional career.
Injuries happen. Star players can’t always be there to act as security blankets. In times like that, the quarterback has to take it upon himself to will his team to tough wins and help others make names for themselves in the process. Those who do that can win the big games, make the playoffs and eventually win Super Bowls. They can be viewed as elite in the end.
Those who cannot are always destined to be average.
With a hobbled Johnson, Stafford faces another significant, telling test in this department in the weeks ahead. This year, he must find a way to do a much better job, because the clock is ticking.