After a busy draft day filling up on running backs, the Detroit Lions welcome back Matthew Stafford with the most complete offense of his career.
In 2019, Matthew Stafford‘s midseason back injury cost him the entire second half of what was shaping into perhaps the best individual season of his career. With 2,499 passing yards and 19 touchdowns, Stafford was likely looking at another 5,000 yard/40 touchdown season in his 11th year with the Detroit Lions.
Especially as offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell came to grips with an ineffective run game, Stafford was let loose in a way we hadn’t seen since the early 2010s. Looking back, a toothless defense was always going to put the Lions’ ceiling at eight or nine wins last year, but watching Stafford in peak form would have kept things much more interesting up until the end.
In 2019, Stafford discovered a quick chemistry with receiver Danny Amendola and continued clicking with Kenny Golladay (not quite like with Calvin Johnson, but closer than you’d think). Bevell got creative with the playbook, rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson got off to a fast start in his own right, and wideout Marvin Jones was neck and neck with Golladay in touchdowns until missing the final three games.
As has been the case far too many times over the best two decades, the only missing ingredient was at running back. After the NFL draft, one frequent commenter on this site (David Gledhill, always gives us good insight, thanks!) pointed out that this current roster might be Stafford’s most complete set of offensive weapons since joining the Lions in 2009.
After all, as Gledhill pointed out, on paper the Lions now have the best running back from the current draft (D’Andre Swift), the best tight end prospect in about five or six drafts (Hockenson), and a steal of a former third-round pick who might be the best receiver of his draft class (Golladay).
Playing with this notion a little bit more, I tried to break down this idea further, taking the rebuilt offensive roster and comparing it to some of Stafford’s more talented lineups over the years. Here’s what I ended up with, looking at both talent but also overall depth at the skill positions