The Detroit Lions currently sit at 4-8 and this is pretty much a lost season. How did they get here, other than by losing a ton of close games. With 12 games out of 16 down, and since both of those numbers are divisible by four, I shall delve into Detroit's numbers to see how their players have done thus far. Later this week, I will look at the defense, but today I shall look at the offense.
Quarterback: This has been a frustrating season when it comes to Matthew Stafford. He leads the league in passing yards with 3,742, but he also leads the league in attempts with 534. This isn't surprising, since the Lions throw the balls like crazy. However, his other numbers aren't all that good. He's only completing 60.5 percent of his passes, which is middling at best, and he only has 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Sure, those numbers are identical to Eli Manning's, but Manning has been slightly disappointing this season as well, and he's also thrown the ball more than 100 times fewer. He's also run for 103 yards and three scores while only fumbling twice, which is a nice bonus.
Sure, Stafford has seen quite a few drops, but he's also made a lot of ugly passes. While Stafford's numbers are pretty good, his throwing motion has looked odd at times. We need not get too worried about him as Detroit's quarterback of the future. He needs to improve, particularly in terms of his mechanics, to become one of the league's best signal callers and thus earn his draft status and massive contract. However, he's still young, and he's still the best quarterback the Lions have had in well over a decade.
Running Backs: With all due respect to Kevin Smith, this is all about Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell. Leshoure has rushed 157 times for 591 yards and seven touchdowns. The touchdowns are nice, but Leshoure is only averaging 3.8 yards per carry and has zero rushes for 20+ yards. He's definitely looking like a plodder, which made sense when he was to be paired with Jahvid Best. He's also caught 26 passes for 170 yards.
Bell has been a big play guy. He's rushed 57 times for 325 yards and three scores and he has 34 receptions for 333 yards. He has three 20+ yard rushes and two 20+ yard receptions. He's a nice find for the Lions, and could definitely be a part of this team's future as a change of pace back.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: All glory to Calvin Johnson. Yes, he only has five touchdowns. He also has a whopping 86 catches for 1,428 yards. He's averaging 119 yards per gain, and he's accounted for 66 fight downs and 29 catches of 20+ yards. He does not lead the league in receptions, but he has almost 300 yards more than any other receiver. He is amazing. He is the best wide receiver in the league.
Then, there's the rest. Burleson has been out for a while. Titus Young has 33 catches for 383 yards and four scores. He may not take the field again. Ryan Broyles has 22 catches for 310 yards and two touchdowns. He's out for the season. Brandon Pettigrew has been alright. He has 57 receptions, but on 98 targets, for 556 yards and three touchdowns, but he's also fumbled four times. Like I said, it's Calvin Johnson and the rest.
Still, despite all this seeming disappointment and all these questions, the Lions have actually been really good on offense. Over at Football Outsiders, the Lions rank FOURTH in total offense, seventh in passing offense, and eighth in rushing offense. This is one of the best offenses in the league. So maybe we really shouldn't worry too much about Stafford and the running backs and the receivers not named Calvin Johnson. And maybe we now know where the blame is to be allocated, and it certainly doesn't seem like it belongs on the offense.