Did the Detroit Lions’ front office do enough this offseason to take the onus of the offense off of quarterback Matthew Stafford this year?
Mid-December, last year’s Lions were 9-4 riding high off a five-game winning streak. And they were doing so possessing one of the league’s worst rushing attacks.
But after Stafford suffered a finger injury in a Week 14 victory over the Chicago Bears, Detroit would not win another contest. The Lions lost four-straight including a wildcard matchup against the Seattle Seahawks in the postseason.
There may not be another team in the NFL more reliant on the play of their quarterback to win games than Detroit. That’s why taking some of that pressure off of Stafford was paramount this offseason.
Although the Lions’ front office did little to add talent to the depth chart at running back other than signing free agent Matt Asiata, Detroit did spend big money to upgrade their offensive line. Adding guard T.J. Lang and tackle Ricky Wagner should improve the play of the right side of this offensive line.
Unfortunately, that plan went a bit awry following a shoulder injury suffered by starting left tackle Taylor Decker earlier this offseason. But regardless, improvements have been made in the trenches to help spark a Lions’ rushing attack that ranked a lowly 30th in the league last season.
But has Detroit done enough to take some pressure off of the shoulders of Stafford to solely win games with his arm this upcoming season?
Here’s how one NFC North expert responded when asked that very question.
"“I don’t think so,” responded Chicago Bears reporter Jeff Dickerson on ESPN.com recently. “I expect Stafford to carry the offense again in 2017. Detroit’s backfield should be better if Abdullah can stay healthy, but it’s not as if Abdullah is a sure thing. He carried the ball only 18 times last year. The rest of the running backs, like Abdullah, are young. Unless Abdullah runs wild, I can’t see this group taking much pressure off Stafford.”"
Despite possessing a very highly-touted running back contingent in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Lions elected to ignore that position entirely. Instead, Detroit will again hope that veterans Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick can avoid their injury troubles of the past and provide the support in the backfield Matthew Stafford so desperately needs this season. If they are unable to do so, this Detroit Lions’ offense will once again depend solely on the arm of the 29-year old quarterback.