The 2013 season was one that the Detroit Lions would like to forget, finishing with a 7-9 record. As the 2014 season approaches, there is one player in particular that has more pressure on him than any others. That would be quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford did throw for 4,650 yards last season but failed when the team needed him the most late in the year during a chase for the playoff. This becomes a very pivotal season for Stafford considering all the offensive weapons around him.
The Lions drafted tight end Eric Ebron with the No. 10 overall pick and have added Golden Tate as the No. 2 receiver opposite of Calvin Johnson. There is Reggie Bush and Joique Bell around as well in the backfield so there is options galore for Stafford. Here is where the problem came in last season. After throwing for 330 yards on Thanksgiving Day in a 40-10 win over the Green Bay Packers to get Detroit to 7-5 for the season, Stafford didn’t have another game with more than 235 passing yards and just had 825 passing yards over his last four games or an average of 206 yards per game. During the first 12 games, Stafford averaged nearly 319 passing yards a game. Yes, this blizzard game was part of the last four games in Philadelphia.
The 2014 season becomes one where Stafford needs to remain consistent from start to finish. He threw for 5,038 yards in 2011 and 4,967 in 2012 before falling off some late in 2013 or he would have hit those numbers as well. Ebron will open up the middle of the field with his size and Tate is an upgrade over Nate Burleson on the other side of Megatron.
The schedule for 2014 features games in Chicago and Green Bay to end the year where passing could be a challenge. However, this is where Stafford must use every weapon he has to keep the Detroit offense moving or it is going to turn into another disappointing season where the Lions had a chance to make the playoffs and failed in the final weeks of the season. Who knows how much longer the window will be open for Detroit to make a playoff run in a loaded NFC North. Stafford needs to put the team on his right shoulder and lead them back to the postseason in 2014.