More pressure than ever on Matthew Stafford following Calvin Johnson’s retirement

Matthew Stafford has had the benefit of throwing to one of the league’s most dominant receivers since being drafted by the Detroit Lions with the No. 1 overall pick in 2009. With Calvin Johnson announcing his retirement earlier this week, Stafford will be asked to shoulder the load of a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game since the 1991-92 season.

The statistics are hard to ignore when it comes to Megatron’s numbers as related to Stafford’s success. Johnson has been on the receiving end of nearly a quarter of Stafford’s completions and about a third of his passing yards and touchdowns. The question becomes will the Lions all-time leader in passing yards be able to put up big numbers, and more importantly, win games without his favorite target?

Stafford reflected on what it has been like having an elite receiver like Johnson on the team in a recent interview with NFL Network analyst and former teammate Nate Burleson.

“It’s a unique thing having Calvin Johnson on your team as a quarterback and watching tape,” said Stafford. “You watch all these other teams that don’t have an elite wide receiver and you think they’re gonna do that to you when you go and play defense. And they don’t. They play something totally different to try and take Calvin away.”-The Detroit News

The Lions quarterback also replied that the offense will have to be run a little differently without No. 81 drawing double coverage from opposing defenses.

Thus far in free agency, Detroit has tried to minimize the loss of Johnson with the signing of free agent receiver Marvin Jones. Jones, who played with the Cincinnati Bengals the previous four seasons, was considered the top free agent pass catcher. Admittedly Jones knows he cannot replace Johnson by himself, but should be able to contribute to the offense.

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However, the fact remains that Stafford has started 93 games for the Lions and earned $94 million throughout his career, only winning 42 games in that span. With only two years remaining on his contract that has no guaranteed money left, the 7th-year quarterback out of Georgia will receive more scrutiny than ever before.

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