Things could finally be on the upswing for the Detroit Lions, and even those in the national media are seeing why.
After posting back-to-back winning seasons, hiring a highly-touted coaching prospect and seeing quarterback Matthew Stafford establish himself as one of top ten quarterbacks in the NFL, there are legitimate reasons to believe the Lions are headed in the right direction.
Marc Sessler of NFL.com published a piece on Thursday listing five reasons the Lions will make the playoffs in 2018 (he’s doing this for all 32 NFL teams).
The top reason, as Sessler writes, is that Matthew Stafford is operating at peak levels.
The Lions are bound to operate as a more balanced offense under Matt Patricia, but the first-year head coach was wise to retain play-caller Jim Bob Cooter. Detroit’s creative coordinator has managed to maximize Stafford over the past two-plus seasons. Stafford’s completion percentage totals since 2015 are the best of his career, while his 10 picks in each of the past two campaigns are also career bests. Same goes with last year’s 7.9 yards per attempt, but forget the numbers: Stafford has played with more confidence and has seen the field better under Cooter.
The other reasons include a revamped offensive line, new faces at the running back position, including Kerryon Johnson and LeGarrette Blount, and the Lions’ dynamic trio of Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay at wide receiver.
Focusing on Golladay, Sessler thinks he could one day be the best of this trio.
Kenny Golladay is coming off an impressive rookie season. He popped on tape and showed moments of power down the stretch after returning from a hamstring injury. His 6-foot-4, 213-pound frame makes him a headache for smaller cover men. There’s a chance Golladay will someday be the finest of the group, but he’s No. 3 for now inside an offense that might use fewer three-wide sets.