With the Detroit Lions 2019 season in the books, we hand out final report cards to each position group. Today, we grade the offense.
With the conclusion of the Detroit Lions’ 2019 season, it’s time to hand out our final report cards of the season. As to be expected with any three-win team, the grades aren’t great.
For this evaluation, we grade each position group separately, and today we look at the offense:
Through eight games, the Lions’ passing game was humming. In year eleven, under his fourth offensive coordinator, Matthew Stafford seemed to be at his absolute best. He was in the throes of arguably his finest season. If he had finished the year, Stafford likely would have approached 5,000 passing yards and 40 touchdowns.
Under new OC Darrell Bevell, Stafford’s strengths were highlighted very effectively. In terms of a passing attack, Bevell’s scheme focuses on taking advantage of the Lions’ strong-armed signal-caller and talented outside receivers. Chunk plays and downfield shots were emphasized instead of drives consisting of high volume short dump-offs and precisely executed smaller gains.
Then it all went south. A back injury forced Stafford to the sideline in Week 10, snapping his streak of 136 straight starts. That ailment would wind up ending his season, prompting the Lions to turn to a combination of Jeff Driskel and David Blough for the balance of 2019. It did not go well.
Yes, the Lions were a sub – .500 team at 3-4-1 with Stafford, but they went a dismal 0-8 to finish the year with Driskel starting three contests and Blough taking the reigns for the final five. The Lions shuffled through a dizzying number of backup candidates throughout the offseason before settling on these two.
Driskel did display an intriguing penchant for gaining yards with his feet, rushing for 151 yards over just three games this year. For comparison, Stafford has eclipsed that number just twice in the eight seasons in which he has played in all 16 games. Still, Driskel’s fleet feet simply don’t make up for his lack of arm talent and decision-making acumen; a completion percentage under 60 and a 1:1 touchdown to interception ratio just isn’t good enough to consistently win games in the NFL.
Blough fared no better in his five starts, despite a handful of notable throws in his Thanksgiving Day debut. It’s hard to expect much more from an undrafted rookie than what Blough could produce. Still, his 4:6 touchdown to interception ratio, completion percentage just above 50, and 5.7 yards per throwing attempt aren’t passable numbers for a team serious about winning games. The Lions will need to upgrade this spot before next season, though that’s always easier said than done.
Had Stafford stayed healthy, this grade would have likely been an A. However, the inadequate output from the Lions’ backups drags it down into the average range, underscoring the importance of having quality depth at the game’s most important position.