Quantcast

Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson Is the Future for Detroit

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford returned from a shoulder injury sustained in week one to throw four touchdown passes in a week eight win over the Redskins. Three of his touchdown passes went to former first-round pick Calvin Johnson who has eight TDs on the season. Whether he was double-covered (like he was on his third touchdown catch of the game), or dragging defenders into the end zone (like he did on his second TD), Megatron found a way to make plays Sunday.

Calvin has now scored in four straight games though the previous three were with Shaun Hill as quarterback. Johnson has enjoyed a nice season, but his best game of the year came in Stafford’s only full game. He had a season-high nine catches for 101 yards and three touchdowns. It was his first career three TD game and the nine catches topped his previous season high of six. Though Calvin is a force regardless of his quarterback, we’ve seen that his game is elevated to a higher level when he’s paired with Stafford.

All three of Johnson’s 100-yard games last year came when Stafford was playing quarterback. Four of his five touchdown catches last year were thrown by Stafford who was only a rookie. The other quarterbacks were Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton who were both more experienced yet they still couldn’t utilize Calvin the same way Stafford could.

The Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson combination has totaled seven touchdowns in just 11 and a half games working together. Calvin has 22 touchdowns in the 40 and a half other games he’s played with different quarterbacks. Stafford’s only had one game back from the shoulder injury, but it sure looks like the two will form a Pro Bowl combination for many years to come. As a Lions fan, there’s no way not to be excited for the future.

Lions, Jets Roll the Dice with Stafford and Sanchez, Worth the Gamble

Most of the Matthew Stafford reaction from Lions fans on my show Friday night was negative. Most Lions fans were scarred by the likes of Joey Harrington and all the other offensive skill position busts they’ve had recently and wanted to go with a safer pick. They wanted to build up the defense because it was so terrible last year. While I understand their concerns, here’s my argument in favor of Detroit’s pick and the Jets moving up to get Mark Sanchez: if you’re looking to achieve long-term success in the NFL (division titles, playoff appearances, double-digit wins, Super Bowl contention) year-in and year-out, you need a good quarterback. That may be understating things — you need a very good to great quarterback.

If you were a fan of the Packers under Favre, the Broncos under Elway, the Colts with Peyton Manning, and the Patriots with Brady, you can/could be confident that your team will be in the playoffs and threatening for the Super Bowl almost every year. That’s not to say that defense doesn’t win championships — it does, just look at Pittsburgh this year — but defensive-minded teams have off seasons more often than ones with excellent quarterbacks. If that weren’t the case, then Brian Billick wouldn’t have been fired by Baltimore. While Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez might not develop into stars, there’s no question in my mind that having a good quarterback is essential to building a franchise. Why do you think Bears fans were so elated to have Jay Cutler? Stafford and Sanchez might not be the guys, but they’re worth the gamble, especially for Detroit. Lions fans should be patient and be willing to live or die with Stafford. Going QB with the first pick was the right move.

Matthew Stafford Dominates Wonderlic Test, Hakeem Nicks Bombs

Although I’m not much of a fan of the NFL combine, I have to say I enjoy when the Wonderlic scores come out. In case you’re unfamiliar with the Wonderlic, it’s a test that’s administered to judge mental swiftness of players. The test asks 50 problem solving questions in 12 minutes and one point is awarded for every correct answer. Vince Young notoriously bombed the test, getting an embarrassingly low 5. Based on the way his career has gone, a low score like that would definitely signal a red flag to me. Luckily for this year’s crop nobody scored that poorly. Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford stood out ringing up a 38 according to Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune. Mark Sanchez of USC scored a respectable 28. As far as positions go, the wide receiver crop certainly disappointed. Like 100% Injury Rate wrote, let’s just hope they can read these headlines:

Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech scored a 15, Darrius Heyward-Bey of Maryland scored a 14, and Percy Harvin of Florida scored a 12. Hakeem Nicks of UNC wowed everyone with an 11 … Jeremy Maclin of Missouri scored a 25, so he’s like the Einstein of this year’s receiving corps.

While it’s an excellent sign for a guy like Stafford where learning a playbook, thinking on the spot, and adjusting to defenses is absolutely critical, the Wonderlic is far less important for a receiver. Honestly, does it really matter how poorly Nicks scored when he can do this on the field? Brains certainly help in football, but that sort of thing is just about natural, athletic ability, excellent hands, and superior concentration. Let’s see if the Lions bite on Stafford based on the Wonderlic considering they might already be in contract negotiations with the first overall pick.