Matthew Stafford is poised for a breakout season. After eight healthy games in 2019, Stafford was on pace for 5,000 yards, 38 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Those stats would have made him one of the NFL’s most productive quarterbacks last season. With a hopefully healthy Stafford in 2020, look for the Lions offense to ignite.
Check out the video above, where I talk about Matthew Stafford as a comeback player of the year candidate.
Firstly, the Lions have one of the league’s best wide receivers in Kenny Golladay. Golladay led the league last season in touchdown catches with eleven of them, and has established himself as one of the league’s most elite red zone targets. Also to see the production Golladay had with David Blough and Jeff Driskel as his quarterback in 2019, shows that Golladay still has room to grow.
The Lions also have other solid receivers that can contribute to Stafford’s success with Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola. Marvin Jones Jr. has been in the league for a while, and has made it clear that he has 1,000 yard upside.
Plus, Danny Amendola is one of the league’s clutchest wideouts, as was clear in New England, where Amendola constantly made crucial plays in the closing minutes of important games, especially in the playoffs. As a slot receiver, Amendola can not only help out Stafford in late game situations, but he can emerge as a viable and dependable wideout in Detroit’s passing game.
Yet, perhaps the part of the Lions offense that will help Stafford the most is the running game. Dynamic running backs that can move the chains, help any quarterback succeed. Luckily for Stafford, the Lions have two running backs who can make an impact with Kerryon Johnson and Deandre Swift.
Although Johnson was injured for eight games last season, he was on pace for over 800 yards and six rushing touchdowns. Yet, next season Johnson will see a decrease in production due to 2020 second round pick, D'Andre Swift.
The former Georgia product was the most complete running back in this year's draft. Not only is Swift a terrific runner, but he can also be productive as a receiving back. Swift will probably be the starting running back next year in Detroit; however, that does not mean that Kerryon Johnson will never be used. The two will join together to make the Lions backfield one of the most intriguing backfields in the NFL.
Moving on to the tight end position, the Lions have 2019 1st round draft pick TJ Hockenson. Hockenson disappointed last season after being selected with a top ten pick in last year's draft. He barely managed to scrape together 300 yards and two touchdown catches. Yet, with Stafford back in 2020, and Hockenson having managed to recover from injuries that sidelined him last year, expect for Hockenson to hit the ground running next season.
If Hockenson is able to prove why he was a first round draft pick, look for Stafford’s productivity especially in the red zone to see a spike in efficiency and touchdown passes. Hockenson, with his big 6’5 frame can really help give Stafford another viable red zone target after Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr.
Yet, for Stafford to truly step up his game next season, Detroit needs to have a legitimate offensive line to protect him. Although they lost Graham Glasgow in free agency, they added offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai to protect the right side of the Lions offensive line.
Even though Taylor Decker is not one of the NFL’s elite left tackles, he is not only capable of holding down the fort to protect Stafford’s blind side but is one of the more underrated offensive tackles in the NFL.
Plus, the Lions in the draft added Jonah Jackson in the third round to help fill the interior of Detroit’s offensive line. On top of Jackson, Frank Ragnow and Joe Dahl are both really solid offensive lineman that can help seal off Stafford from interior pressure and help open up the running game. With the Lions losing Glasgow in free agency, don’t count them out, as they still have one of the most underappreciated offensive lines in the NFL.
With capable wide receivers, two solid running backs, a former first round pick at tight end, and a powerful offensive line, Matthew Stafford looks to be ready to explode in 2020. The former first overall draft pick has constantly been hated on in his career for always being on the losing side of things.
Yet, this year the Lions have a legitimate chance. Not only did they seriously add to their defense in the offseason, but with the new seven team playoff format, it would not be surprising to see them sneak into the 7th seed in the NFC.
With a potent offense and a revamped defense, Stafford’s Lions may turn some heads next season. If they are able to break out of the slump they have been in for years, then not only will they receive the national attention they deserve, but Matthew Stafford will be noticed as a top ten quarterback in the NFL. In the meantime, stop hating on Stafford and get ready to see him play out of his mind in 2020.