The Detroit Lions have played four games now, which is one fourth of their season, and so far, it has gone pretty well. The Lions are currently 3-1, with their only loss being a close affair on the road against the Cardnals. They are 2-0 in their division, and they just beat the Chicago Bears. While four games is not a large sample size, I still felt it was enough to give us a slight sense of what is going on so far. Plus, if you are going to divide 16 into smaller parts, four games is pretty much the necessary point to use. So, here is a look at how Detroit's offense has looked through four games. The defense will be addressed in the future.
Let us start with Matthew Stafford, for he is the quarterback and all. He has been very busy in recent seasons, throwing the ball a ton, and that has continued to be the case. He's thrown the ball at least 35 times in every game, but he hasn't crossed the 50 attempt mark yet, so there's that. While some of Stafford's throws have looked awry, especially against the Bears, overall he has thrown the ball well. He's completing 64.1% of his passes and he's thrown seven touchdowns to three interceptions, and one of those picks was fluky. Stafford is averaging 309 yards passing per game, which is not as notable as it used to be.
For as much fun and intrigue there was when analyzing and projecting Stafford in the past, doesn't it kind of feel like we know what he is now? I mean, there is more room to grow potentially, but at the very least he is approaching his ceiling. I feel like Stafford is a good quarterback who is capable of being great on occasion. He makes some bad throws and has some funky arm actions, but he has a big arm, doesn't make a ton of mistakes, and has just enough mobility to get by. He certainly hasn't been an issue so far this year, and I expect his throws to be a bit more accurate going forward.
Well, if four games is a small sample size, we've got pretty much nothing to go on with Reggie Bush. However, what we have seen is reason to be very excited and to weep with joy. If nothing else, Bush has been fun to watch, and certainly his performance has more than just aesthetic value. Bush has rushed for 254 yards on 48 carries. he has 11 catches for 179 yards. He has scored twice. And he's done all that despite missing a little more than one game of action. Bush has definitely added a new dimension to this offense. You could say he just brings back the dimension Jahvid Best added, but I think what Bush provides is a bit different, perhaps even a bit better. If Bush remains healthy, this offense goes to another level.
Joique Bell has served admirably as Bush's backup, especially since he is, in essence, a poor man's Reggie Bush. It'd be nice if he could improve his yards per carry though, but he does have three rushing touchdowns. Mikel Leshoure has zero touches this season. Maybe the Lions can get a seventh round pick for him?
Calvin Johnson remains the top receiving option, but Stafford's erratic throwing has limited his yardage a bit. He only has 21 receptions on 40 targets, but they have gone for 312 yards and four touchdowns. He's only averaging 78 yards per game, which is a little less than what you would expect from Megatron. He shall improve, I imagine. He remains the best receiver in the league.
They don't have many options behind him. Nate Burleson had been pretty good until his arm injury. At least Ryan Broyles is healthy now. Kris Durham has five catches for 102 yards. Joseph Fauria has two touchdowns. Brandon Pettigrew had one good game.
Also, a quick word on the offensive line. They had a lot of turnover this offseason, but so far their offensive line has been quite good. They've only allowed three sacks despite all the dropbacks by Stafford. In fact, Football Outsiders has the Lions' offensive line as the top pass blocking unit thus far.
Currently, by traditional measures, Detroit is fifth in passing offense and 21st in rushing offense. By Football Outsiders' measurements, they are 12th in offense, 11th passing and 23rd rushing. However, because it is so early in the season, they haven't made adjustments for opponents yet. They wait for a bigger sample size.
And so, so far, the Detroit's offense is looking pretty good. They could run the ball better, but Bush being healthy helps that. Stafford shown throw the ball better. Johnson will make more receptions. Right now, the Lions are 12th on Football Outsiders. By season end, I think they will end up in the top 10.