While Matthew Stafford was healthy in 2019 (8 games), the Detroit Lions offense was clicking on all cylinders.
As we continue to inch closer to the 2020 season, some (including myself) are calling their shot and predicting that Stafford will lead the Lions offense to a Top 5 unit in the NFL.
Well, if you would ask ESPN writer Bill Barnwell if he thinks the Lions will have a top 5 offense, he would probably laugh at you.
On Monday, ESPN released a piece titled, “Ranking offensive weapons for all 32 NFL teams in 2020: Barnwell picks the best and worst,” and the Lions come in at No. 25 (down seven spots from a year ago)
Here is Barnwell’s rationale:
Heading into last year, Lions fans were excited about a new big three of Kerryon Johnson, Kenny Golladay and T.J. Hockenson. One out of three ain’t bad! Golladay averaged 18.3 yards per catch and scored 11 touchdowns, but Johnson missed half of the season with a knee injury and seemed to fall out of favor with the organization. Hockenson, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2019 draft, had 131 yards and a touchdown in the opener against a hapless Cardinals pass defense, but then only added 236 additional yards over the next 11 games before hitting injured reserve with ankle and shoulder injuries.
It’s way too early to be concerned about Hockenson given how many great tight ends are ordinary in their debut seasons, but it was mostly a lost season. Johnson will be competing with second-rounder D’Andre Swift, with the Lions hoping at least one of them turns into a productive back. They’ll also be hoping for a return to form from Marvin Jones, who has gone from averaging 18 yards per catch in 2017 all the way down to 12.6 last season. It would be easy to chalk that up to subpar quarterback play, but Jones averaged 12.7 yards per catch with Matthew Stafford at quarterback. There’s plenty of talent on paper here, but the Lions need somebody besides Golladay to leap.
Whatever you say, Bill. I am sticking with my Top 5 prediction…assuming Stafford plays 16 games.