Matthew Stafford is a weapon
If the Detroit Lions’ ability to run the ball lives up to what Matt Patricia envisions, then it becomes easy to see how deadly it would make the offense. The ability to run the ball at will in the NFL is one of the most dangerous weapons a team can possess.
Last year Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins played as the Vikings expected him to when the play-action passing game took off because opposing defenses had to respect Dalvin Cook and the Minnesota rushing attack.
That being said, let’s just imagine the Lions backfield demanding that same type of respect with Matthew Stafford running the play-action passing game. Cousins looked good with that successful running game to create opportunities through the air. Stafford would have a field day and immediately put himself in the MVP race.
The only caveat is that the Lions will have to win games. With the tough schedule they will face next season that’s not a given. Especially without major improvement from the defense.
To use the comparison of Kirk Cousins again, the Vikings almost always play good defense, and last season they ran the ball well. That combination opened up opportunities for Minnesota to win games.
Cousins is a game manager, Matthew Stafford is a weapon.
Considering that until Stafford injured his back last season he played like an MVP candidate, one would suspect he should be even better next season. With or without an improved running game.
But if the Lions do improve on the ground, there will be a twofold reason for it. The first, of course, will be due to the improved talent in the backfield, but the second will be because of better offensive line play, which should also translate to better pass-protection.
I think it’s safe to say that most opponents will always be game-planning to stop Stafford, but if the Lions can create a rushing attack that enemy defenses will have to pay attention to, then the possibilities of what Matthew will be able to accomplish through the air makes him an easy MVP candidate.
If Matt Patricia can find a way for his defense to play at an acceptable level, then even if the Lions don’t end up with the best record in the NFL or even the NFC North, Matthew Stafford will be a legitimate MVP candidate and even more important, Detroit will contend for the postseason.