It's once again that time of the year again. The players are out there running endless plays, the coaches are readying their plays for the players, and the fans are taking out and throwing away these. Yes, the Lions are looking for their first non-losing season since 2000; and right now, that looks like a legitimate possibility. After having a top two pick in two years in a row of having top two picks in the draft, the Lions have rebuilt pretty well. This season could be a breakout year for a couple of young players, but unfortunately I'll only be mentioning one of them this year. The Lions and their devoted fans can be excited for this season as a possible turning point in their franchise (hopefully as excited as reading the rest of this post). Here our this year's boom and bust for the Detroit Lions:
BOOM! - WR Calvin Johnson
Calvin Johnson is coming off of his second best season of his, albeit, young three-year career. Matthew Stafford is coming off of his rookie season, and boy did he look like a rookie at times, and played most of the year (10 games). After some NFL experience, Stafford should have a significantly better TD-INT ratio than last season where he threw 13 Tds and 20 INTs. Stafford also now has more options to throw to with the addition of WR Nate Burleson and RB Jahvid Best plus a healthy Brandon Pettigrew will help Stafford as well as spread out the defense to open up holes and single-coverage for Calvin Johnson. This all bodes well for him and I fully expect to see the Johnson of 2008-2009 with numbers around 65 catches, 1200 yards, and at least 7 TDs. Johnson is the ultimate deep threat in the NFL with his size, speed, and athleticism. This will be the year of Megatron (cue evil laugh).
Bust... - RB Kevin Smith
This really pains me to say this because I am a big Kevin Smith fan and thought he'd be perfect for the Lions while they rebuild, but his numbers really dropped off from his rookie season. Maybe this is because defenses figured him out or schemed differently or maybe he was just having a down year. However, once he tore he ACL in Week 14, none of that matters because it was such a significant injury. It's hard for anyone to come back from an injury like that, especially since his job is run... The outlook for him this season is even more bleak because the Lions traded up in the late 1st Round of the past draft to select RB Jahvid Best, who will be competing for the starting job; even if Jahvid doesn't best Smith (Get it? It's funny because his last name is Best and... Nevermind...), he'll split carries with him, taking away yards as well as scores and catches. The selection of Best, at the very least, means the Lions are already ready to move on from Smith.
Basically, Megatron is going to reign over the entire NFC North and I think he can easily be a Pro Bowler this year. There is also a very good chance for Stafford, Pettigrew, Best, and Amari Spievey to have big years as well. Well that's my take on the Lions' upcoming season, now you can go ahead and tell me who I missed. I am doing this for all 32 teams in this order by the way, and next up is the Buccaneers. And yes, that includes the Packers, Bears, and Vikings.
*A "bust" doesn't mean the player's entire career is over, but is projected to have a bad/disappointing year from previous ones.