Matthew Stafford spent about 8 minutes at the Detroit Lions podium at today’s press conference, but those 8 minutes paint a clear picture as to what the Lions emphasis is for the 2016 NFL Season.
Stafford appeared confident with clear expectations of what the Lions’ main strategy would be and that is “execution”. The Lions quarterback used this word frequently, when explaining the keys to success for the Lions this season.
There are a lot of question marks hanging over the Lions’ head as far as the wide receiver position goes. Stafford said it was a good problem to have, but the players competing for the top spots of the depth chart are finding a way to get open, making it easier for Stafford to get the ball to them. Although he wouldn’t elaborate on who ranks where in his mind, Stafford did say that there is a lot of depth there and that a lot of the newer guys are seeing a lot of action and gaining much needed experience in the Lions’ ramped up offense.
The Lions are learning 2nd year offensive coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter’s tweaked, quick paced offense and know that the key to it’s success is wearing down and confusing defenses, along with knowing assignments and executing this plan efficiently. Stafford stated that the years of experience facing the same defenses is beneficial when executing new formats of similar plays. In other words, the plays are similar but have a new twist that can absorb the nature of this new up tempo offense.
Stafford’s years of experience are going to be crucial in getting the ball to new receivers and finding others to depend on now that Calvin Johnson has retired.
When asked about the competition at running back, without saying names (Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick), Stafford stated that a key to winning more playing time is choosing the player that can best assist in pass protection, as well as finding a way to help keep the ball moving for the offense. He did mention the strong emphasis on pass protection this season and how it will be a main factor along with the execution of plays for Detroit going forward.
Overall, it appears that Stafford acknowledges the changes his team is facing, but, he is embracing the new up tempo offense as well as the opportunity to bank on a lot of guys to get it done for him in 2016. This will be an interesting scenario for Stafford and the Lions in 2016, and if they can figure this out, there might be another contender to talk about in the NFC North.