The Lions had their worst season since 2012 with a slump to 6-10 last year. The first year of Matt Patricia brought many ups (including a win over the Patriots early in the season), but it brought far more downs as the offense was in the bottom quarter of the league in terms of scoring points. The Lions do have some talented players on their roster including Damon Harrison, Darius Slay, and the oft-maligned Matthew Stafford. The Lions are a clear step down from the Bears, Vikings, and Packers, but they will look to return to .500 this season.
Here is a look at some criticism of the Lions moving into the 2019 season.
#1: Matthew Stafford is trash.
This one is truly brutal. Stafford is not necessarily a bad quarterback, but he has never established himself among the best in the NFL despite his pedigree as a former No. 1 overall pick. The Lions have had four winning seasons under Stafford in his eight full campaigns, so he has had a reasonable level of success considering the history of the Lions as an inept franchise. The Lions have yet to win a playoff game with Stafford at the helm, but they have made the playoffs three times — their best stretch since the 1990s. Stafford has not been the only one to blame for his lack of success against winning teams, but he rarely helps his case in a meaningful matter.
Verdict: No, but he is not one of the top 10 or 15 quarterbacks. He is average.
#2: Kerryon Johnson is a savior at running back.
Johnson was on pace for 1,000 yards in 2019. The Lions have not had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2013 (Reggie Bush). While it is not a requirement to have a 1,000-yard rusher (the Lions last made the playoffs with a 1,000-yard rusher in 1997: Barry Sanders’s 2,000-yard season), Johnson should just add versatility to the Detroit offense as both a runner and receiver. If health permits, Johnson should hover between 1,000 and 1,100 rushing yards plus around 50 catches for 300 receiving yards and a total of eight touchdowns. If Johnson can produce that, the Lions will be better in 2019.
#3: Kenny Golladay will have a breakout 2019 campaign.
Golladay is in the same situation as the Bengals’ Tyler Boyd. Neither had a heralded 2018 campaign, but both surpassed 1,000 yards. Also, both receivers have been tipped as breakout candidates in 2019. There is a slight problem, however. They have already broken out in the NFL. Golladay’s 70-catch, 1,063-yard, five-touchdown 2018 should be improved upon in 2019 as he garners a larger share of the targets in Detroit. Golladay could approach numbers such as 85 catches, 1,200 yards, and 10 touchdowns.
Verdict: He had one in 2018.
The Lions are not particularly rich in high-end talent. While they have some nice pieces on both the offense and defense, they do not offer much upside in terms of being a playoff team. Stafford might throw for 4,000 more yards. Kerryon Johnson and Golladay might have incredibly productive seasons. However, the Lions are likely glued to the bottom of the NFC North for the 2019 season. It seems highly unlikely that the Lions will be able to usurp the Vikings, Bears, or Packers.
Verdict: No playoffs