In this series I’ll be going over who I think will be the top 20 impact players for the Lions in 2018 – finally at #1 we have Matthew Stafford.
It can’t really be anyone else can it? For some reason – I really can’t understand why – some Lions fans are still Matthew Stafford doubters. For me he is far and away the reason the Lions have had any success during the past few seasons. Without him this team last year was a 4-12 team at best. If you can convince me otherwise of that then please go ahead and tweet it at me (@Alex_Watt_Lions).
Last season he was 3rd in yards with 4,446 while throwing for 29 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. While these aren’t the mindboggling numbers of the 2011 season they are still very good numbers. Comparing the numbers to MVP and often called the greatest of all time Tom Brady he wasn’t that far off in basically every stat. The “gunslinger” mentality that he was known for when Calvin Johnson was his main outlet is outdated and he plays a lot smarter nowadays, choosing his passes more carefully and not just chucking downfield and hoping a few times a game.
Now with that out the way, the coming season will be his most efficient one yet. For the first time in his career, he’ll have a run game he can lean on. Teams won’t be setting up in the red zone knowing a pass is coming. They won’t be setting up on first down leaning toward a pass being thrown. For a player like Stafford who throws passes into the windows that he does, giving him even an extra yard of space to throw into is critical.
He’ll also have a defense that shouldn’t give up as many points and require him to try to force crazy plays down the field. With Matt Patricia, the Patriots defense was regularly in the top 10 for points allowed against them. This will give Matthew Stafford the safety net of not having to go out all guns blazing to equal scores and he can keep drives going slower and maybe only need field goals to win games rather than 4th quarter comebacks. If the Lions make the playoffs then it will be down to Stafford having another good season. Just think where would the team be with someone like Matt Cassel or Jake Rudock leading the team every game and you’ll know the impact he has.
The rest of the top 20: