Stafford displayed chemistry with second-year wideout Kenny Golladay during June minicamp, Justin Rogers of The Detroit News reports.
The Lions are banking on Golladay's development along with an improved running game to make up for the offseason departures of tight ends Eric Ebron and Darren Fells. The team did sign Luke Willson and Levine Toilolo to join 2017 fourth-round pick Michael Roberts, but the trio will have a tough time matching the 751 yards and seven TDs provided by Ebron and Fells last season. The Lions otherwise devoted their offseason to building a decent rushing attack, something Stafford hasn't had since 2013. The team brought in offensive line coach Jeff Davidson and RB LeGarrette Blount, then drafted C/G Frank Ragnow at No. 20 overall and RB Kerryon Johnson at No. 43. Detroit would like to keep Stafford around last year's mark of 565 pass attempts, which was easily his fewest in a full season. He made up for it with improved accuracy on deep throws, despite playing behind an offensive line that struggled with injuries all year. Better injury luck up front could turn the Detroit offense into a dangerous, well-balanced unit, as TE is the only weakness on paper.
Stafford completed 20 of 29 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns during Sunday's 35-11 victory over Green Bay. He also caught a two-point conversion while rushing twice for two yards.
Stafford capped off another statistically-strong season in Detroit by putting together one of his most masterful games in recent memory, as his 140.4 passer rating was his highest mark since 2015. The Georgia product ended the campaign in style, too, sneaking behind the Packers defense to catch a two-point conversion on a trick play in the fourth quarter. Stafford will now finish the season with a fantastic stat line that includes 4,446 yards passing, a 65.5 completion percentage, 7.9 YPA mark and 29:10 TD:INT ratio -- while being sacked 47 times, the second-highest total in the league. He'll now proceed into the second year of the massive extension he signed last summer expecting to have the same underrated but potent nucleus of wideouts back at his disposal -- one that includes a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, along with an ascending deep threat in 2017 third-rounder Kenny Golladay. If the Lions can finally find an answer at the running back position this offseason, Stafford could realistically improve upon his 2018 numbers if opposing defenses are forced to station more players closer to the line of scrimmage. However, it's possible the Lions move on from head coach Jim Caldwell this offseason, which could signal the start of an adjustment period for the entire team.
The 8-7 Lions were officially eliminated from playoff contention after their Week 16 loss to the Bengals, but with a winning record for the season still achievable, it doesn't sound like the team will rest its regulars for an otherwise meaningless finale. Stafford has been playing through a bruise on his throwing throughout this month and sprained his ankle in late November, but it hasn't translated to a dramatic downturn in his productivity over the last five games. During that time, he's completed 70.4 percent of his passes for 272.6 yards per game and seven touchdowns. He shouldn't have much difficulty finding success against a vulnerable Green Bay secondary that he torched for 361 yards through the air in the two sides' previous matchup this season.
Stafford completed 19 of 35 pass attempts for 203 yards, one touchdown and one interception Sunday against the Bengals. He also gained seven yards on his lone carry in the 26-17 loss.
Stafford completed just 54 percent of his passes and recorded an average of 5.8 yards per attempt en route to his second-lowest yardage total of the season. He opened the scoring with a 33-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, but the offense scuffled after that and finished with its lowest point total since Week 8. Most importantly, the loss eliminated Stafford and company from playoff contention, so it remains to be seen whether the Lions choose to deploy all of their regulars for next week's meaningless season finale against the Packers.
Stafford completed 25 of 33 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns during Saturday's 20-10 victory over the Bears. He also lost a fumble while rushing once for minus-1 yard.
Stafford appears to be operating at full health, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reported that Stafford didn't tape up his bruised throwing hand Saturday and won't need to moving forward. Even with this recent injury, Stafford currently boasts an 80.2 percent completion rate over his past three games. He was passing at a 62.5 percent clip in the 11 games prior. While he only completed two of 10 passes that traveled over 10 yards Saturday, Stafford excelled in the short-to-intermediate areas of the field and finished with an 86.9 completion rate on passes that traveled 10 yards or under. For those who think this increased efficiency is unlikely to persist through the season's final two games, consider this: in Week 16, he'll be playing against a Bengals team that could be without both of its regulars at cornerback and possibly its entire linebacking corps. Then, in Week 17, Stafford hosts a Packers secondary that recently lost its top draft pick, cornerback Kevin King (shoulder), to injured reserve, and could be without their other starter at the position, Davon House (shoulder), as well. Even with those two healthy for most of the season, Green Bay still ranks 29th in quarterback-rating allowed (98.2).
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