Lions become popgun offense without Stafford

Posted Sept. 13, 2010 @ 4:38 p.m.
Posted By Michael Blunda

The Lions' offense was supposed to take a major step forward this season, thanks in large part to the progression of QB Matthew Stafford. But that all changes now that it appears they won't have their franchise passer for the next 4-6 weeks.

Stafford was off to a good start in Sunday's opener at Chicago, at least until he got sacked by Julius Peppers late in the second quarter. It was on that play that the No. 1 overall pick in 2009 suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder that reportedly will sideline him a month or longer. Shaun Hill entered in relief but failed to get much of anything done through the air until late in the game.

With Hill taking the reins under center, it's unlikely Detroit's offense will be very explosive in the coming weeks. The player hurt most by this is WR Calvin Johnson, who won't be much of a downfield threat given Hill's lack of arm strength. While Johnson probably will continue to be targeted frequently, he won't be much of a big-play weapon until Stafford returns.

On the flip side, RB Jahvid Best could benefit from Hill's presence. With the Lions unlikely to throw as much, the rookie could be a busy man both on the ground and in the short passing game. He had an up-and-down opener Sunday, scoring twice but managing just 20 yards on 14 carries and 16 yards on five catches. For the next 4-6 weeks, he should be guaranteed to see 20-plus touches per game.