The Detroit Lions hope to unveil a potent rushing attack this season. But hesitation in the passing game could spell offensive struggles.
The 2021 season is a year of transition for the Lions. Since Barry Sanders retired over two decades ago, Detroit’s rushing attack has been lackluster. The combination of inconsistent line play and the lack of a playmaker in the backfield has led to subpar production from the ground game.
For the last 12 seasons, the Lions’ offense has been almost exclusively propelled by aerial power. Matthew Stafford who owns every meaningful passing record in the history of the Honolulu Blue and Silver was the offense.
If Matthew didn’t have a big game passing the ball, the Lions typically lost. Whenever the offense would recommit itself to the ground game, it would invariably sputter until Matthew’s right arm came to the rescue.
A fact that opposing defenses were keenly aware of. Game planning for Detroit was simple; ignore the rushing attack and go all out after Matthew Stafford.
Over those 12 seasons, Matthew received more than his share of abuse from opponents. Often getting spotty pass-protection, Stafford was on the wrong end of many a blitz designed to stop the Lions’ strong-armed signal-caller.
When Matthew had time, there was no place in opposing secondaries that was safe from his passes. Especially when he had competent receivers to throw to like Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Kenny Golladay.
Every play brought the threat of Matthew detonating a bomb in enemy secondaries. Just having Stafford in the game caused the threat of the field being stretched into a big play.
Today, as we all know, Matthew Stafford is in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Motor City is getting used to the sight of former Rams quarterback, Jared Goff, at the helm of the Lions’ offense. Most pundits consider Stafford the better of the two, but Goff has won more consistently and contributed to a playoff run that led to the Super Bowl before the Patriots abruptly ended their world championship dreams.
As training camp wears on, Goff continues to impress with his accuracy. However, despite this positive feedback, the almost complete absence of the deep ball has been very unsettling.