Obviously, Matthew Stafford was far short of perfection yesterday. He was 26 of 45, a 57.8% completion rate. He threw for only 210 yards—only 4.67 per attempt! The Lions were an appalling 4/17 on third down (23%)—which, combined with the Redskins’ 2/14 , let to many, many punts. Dave Hogg (@stareagle on Twitter), just started Tweeting “YAP” (Yet Another Punt) after every punt.
. . . and yet, there was a big, big difference. Stafford got the ball to his playmakers, over and over again. He took chances, but was only burned once (by a great defensive play, at that). He made plays, made yards, made touchdowns happen—and with him out there, the Lions’ offense is something to be reckoned with. Even with Stafford seeming rusty, and his targets having a rough day catching the football, the sixth-best scoring offense in the NFL gave us reason to believe that it has another gear we haven’t seen yet.
One thing that I noticed—and talked about extensively in the Fireside Chat—is how visibly frustrated Stafford was with his targets. A graphic popped up that said the Lions lead the NFL in dropped passes, and I’m sure they padded that lead yesterday. I’m not sure if it’s Stafford being inaccurate, the wideouts needing to readjust to Stafford’s zippier passes, or what, but there were a lot of missed opportunities on Sunday.
On the whole, though, the Lions scored when they needed to—even when they needed to score a lot. The running game was exactly what it needed to be, with Best and Smith proving to be a complementary pair, indeed. Except for Albert Haynesworth occasionally proving to be too much for Dominic Raiola to handle solo, the offensive line did its job, too.
This is the high-flying Lions offense we thought we’d be seeing this year—and it’s only going to fly higher as the captain settles back into his chair. Next week, I think we’ll see what “full throttle” looks like, as another full week of practice with Stafford, Johnson, Burleson, Best all healthy gets everyone back on the same flight plan. Now please fasten your seat belts, turn off electronic devices, and put your trays in the upright position—because I’m ending with a tortured “Jets” metaphor, and it’s going to be a bumpy ride.