Detroit Lions 2020 season-ending report cards: Offense
SideLion Report hands out final report cards to the Detroit Lions’ offense
Anytime you lose 11 games, fire your head coach and general manager mid-season, and occupy your division’s cellar for the third year in a row, chances are your end of the season evaluations won’t be good. While the Detroit Lions’ offense certainly wasn’t the main reason for their struggles in 2020, there were some shortcomings across several position groups.
The Lions finished 20th in points scored and yards per game, as well as tied for 17th with just under 22 first downs a game and 15th in third down percentage at 41%. Middling numbers, resulting in middling final marks.
Here, we hand out season-ending grades to each of their offensive position groups, beginning with the quarterbacks.
In his 12th season, Matthew Stafford did what he’s done for much of his Lions career; put up impressive throwing numbers, fight through injuries and give his team a chance to win on most Sundays. However, as was also the case like much of his time in Detroit, all it amounted to was a losing record and a last-place divisional finish.
Stafford did manage to throw for 4,000 yards for the first time since 2017. His 26 touchdown throws were also his most since that same season. This, despite not completing four games.
Battling through thumb, rib and ankle injuries, Stafford’s renowned toughness was on display all year. His leadership despite difficult circumstances and questionable support from other positional groups was admirable.
The soon-to-be 33-year-old still possesses arm strength that is the envy of many starting quarterbacks, and his ability to make difficult throws was still evident. His no-look touchdown strike to receiver Marvin Jones in a Week 15 loss to the Tennessee Titans ranks among his all-time best.
He was far from perfect, however. His three pick-sixes proved very costly, with each of them leading to an a cascade of team-wide mistakes and three blowout losses. He was only able to lead the Lions to a single win against an opponent with a winning record, reinforcing the narrative that he can’t consistently beat good teams.
Where does this all leave him entering 2021? He has two years remaining on his current contract, and a new general manager and coaching staff will need to decide if they want to move forward with him under center – he will need a new deal next year – or start planning for the future at the position. Much of the Lions’ offseason will hinge on this storyline.
Veteran journeyman Chase Daniel was brought in as an experienced backup who could serve as an important sounding board for Stafford as well as someone who could keep the offense afloat should Stafford be unavailable. No such luck on the latter.
Daniel spelled a hobbled Stafford on four occasions, but he could not ignite any kind of offensive threat in any of his appearances. He threw for just one touchdown in 43 pass attempts. It’s probably unrealistic to expect too much more from a backup, but Daniel did little to elevate the Lions’ chances when he was called upon.