Detroit Lions 2014 Mid-Season Report Card: Offense

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Oct 26, 2014; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass during the second half of the game between the Detroit Lions and the Atlanta Falcons at Wembley Stadium. The Lions defeated the Falcons 22-21. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Matthew Stafford

Despite the constant pressure from opposing defenses in 2014, I feel confident in saying that Stafford has made progress under Jim Caldwell and company. At just 26-years-old, he has surpassed Bobby Layne as the Detroit Lions all-time touchdown passing leader.

The pass was the 119th of his young career, taking 69 games to reach the milestone.

It took Layne 97 games to reach 118 TD’s.

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  • However, it’s never been touchdown passes that have been Stafford’s weak point. It has been his decision making and protecting of the football. In my opinion he has done a better job in both of those areas this year. Impressive considering the poor protection from his offensive line.

    It does help that Joe Lombardi’s system is relatively conservative if compared to that of former coordinator, Scott Linehan’s. The Lions new system requires less of the gun slingler mentality and more of the game management type.

    To start with, the Detroit Lions are running fewer plays so far in 2014. On a game-by-game basis, Stafford’s throwing the ball 10 percent less than he did last season. That can be attributed to both less snaps, as well as taking more sacks.

    He is also attempting fewer deep passes. Some of that can be attributed to Calvin Johnson’s injury, and some to the new playbook. On the deep throws that are attempted, he has also been less successful at completing them. He completed 30 percent last season compared to 25 percent so far this season.

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    Still, Stafford’s ability to protect the football has improved, though he can still improve more. He’s thrown five interceptions when not pressured and is being picked 2.4 percent of his passing attempts. That’s down from his career average (2.8), but still middle of the pack at his position.

    Will the offenses ability to effectively execute the plays called improve much before the end of the year?

    That’s hard to say, really. I don’t believe they’ll turn some miraculous corner in practice and come into week 10 looking like Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. However, if the O-Line can begin to protect Stafford and give the Lions signal caller time to hit his receivers down field, (including a returning Megatron) than they will improve some.

    Again, there is certainly room to improve with Stafford and their likely always will be. However, he’s been slightly more accurate this year while still taking a fair amount of shots down field. He is also eating more sacks instead of forcing throws under pressure, I consider that a positive.

    Not to mention, he is winning games.

    Quarterback Grade: B+

    How would you grade the Detroit Lions offense so far in 2014? Leave your grades in the comments below!