Detroit Lions climb NFL’s triplet rankings, nearing top 10

Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions are expected to field three talented offensive playmakers in 2020

The Triplets. A term made popular from the early 1990s that, at the time, referred to the Dallas Cowboys’ Hall of Fame trio of quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith, and wide receiver Michael Irvin. Fast forward thirty years and the Detroit Lions have an impressive trio of their own.

Heading into the 2020 regular season, the Lions are expected to field one of the league’s top offensive triplets. It consists of quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Kenny Golladay, and rookie running back D’Andre Swift. And Detroit is hoping their combined play will be enough to turn the 3-12-1 Lions from last season into playoff contenders.

Stafford is entering his 12th season in the NFL, despite only being 32-years old. Yet, he’s still coming off a season cut in half due to injury, playing just eight games in 2019. Stafford’s health and availability is the key to a bounce-back season in Detroit as the team failed to win a single game without him last year.

Golladay is coming off his best season as a professional. Leading the NFL with 11 receiving touchdowns, the former third-rounder received his first Pro Bowl bid in 2019. Entering his second season in offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s system, Golladay is expected to continue to climb the ranks of the elite receivers in the NFL and land himself a hefty contract extension to boot.

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Potentially the best running back in the 2020 NFL Draft class, Georgia’s D’Andre Swift fell to the Motor City in the second round. Although capable of being a three-down workhorse for the Lions, Swift figures to share the load with the oft-injured Kerryon Johnson in his first season. But Detroit might find it difficult to hold back Swift’s immense skill set for too long.

Detroit Lions climb’s Triplet Rankings for 2020

The trio of Stafford, Golladay, and Swift is expected to be the tip of the spear at the heart of the Lions’ resurgence in 2020. And that expectation is warranted considering Detroit was recently ranked with having the 13th best set of offensive triplets in the NFL. That’s despite including a rookie running back who hasn’t played a single professional snap yet.

Ali Bhanpuri of ranked the Motor City as having one of the league’s top triplets, just three spots outside of the top ten. That’s after ranking the trio of Stafford, Golladay, and Kerryon Johnson 19th overall the year before.

While Bhanpuri praised Golladay’s tremendous upside and Swift’s potential availability over Johnson, he confirmed the key to Detroit’s resurgence is unquestionably Stafford.

"“While the Lions’ two-headed backfield provides them some insurance at the RB position, they have no room for error under center. Signing Chase Daniel is great for the film room, but Stafford is the guy who makes this offense hum. If he can pick up where he left off before last year’s season-ending back injury, Detroit will make a run in the NFC”"

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Injuries plagued the previous big three for the Detroit Lions in 2019, with both Matthew Stafford and Kerryon Johnsons missing a significant amount of games. If this year’s triplets can manage to stay relatively healthy, many believe the Lions will post a far superior performance that should lead to more than a mere three wins.