Detroit Lions’ Quarterbacks supporting cast
The Lions have never done a particularly good job of helping Matthew Stafford with a proper supporting cast. Stafford had two very good targets for a couple of years in receivers Calvin Johnson, Jr. and Golden Tate, along with running back Reggie Bush, although they were rarely healthy at the same time. Since Johnson’s retirement, Marvin Jones, Jr., Eric Ebron, Tate, and Kenny Golladay provided Stafford with his best array of weapons.
Similarly, the offensive line has been thin and inadequate as well as not providing the backfield with good runners. The influx of talent has been erratic and insufficient to address the offensive balance that teams like the Rams have and the Patriots seem to maintain.
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2018 was the first year in the last five where the Lions averaged over one hundred yards rushing on the ground. That was due to free agents and draft picks both along the offensive line and in the backfield. The pass protection has been poor most seasons, letting Stafford get sacked 213 times in the last five years.
If you look at the teams with consistent playoff success, like the Patriots, they consistently rank high in both rushing yards and defense, despite Brady getting more credit than he probably deserves.
Dave Birkett mentioned that five of the ten Super Bowl winners since 2001 featured a quarterback on a rookie deal that were not the Patriots. He listed Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, and Carson Wentz as the others, although Wentz’s teammate, Nick Foles’ salary puts the cumulative spending past his marker.
The Detroit Lions have simply not been able to draft talent that should provide the necessary depth and future starters that other teams seem to have less trouble finding. In the seven years prior to general manager Bob Quinn’s arrival in Detroit, only seven players are still on the roster and four are from the 2013 draft by former GM, Martin Mayhew, the Lions draft history can be seen, here.
Looking at how the extra cap space affects the playoff offenses, the top three offenses in points were lead by rookie-deal players. Only the Ravens broke the top twelve, featuring rookie Lamar Jackson for a large portion of the season, of other rookie-lead offenses. That makes four in the top twelve but looking through the top twenty, only seven teams used rookie-deal players as starters or big contributors.