Last week, ESPN named the Detroit Lions one of the five most intriguing NFL teams for the 2013 season. As a result, the Lions were featured in a series on teams that ESPN can't wait to see in 2013.
One of the reasons the Lions are so intriguing is because of their offense. With talented players like quarterback Matthew Stafford, running back Reggie Bush and wide receiver Calvin Johnson, ESPN expects the Lions to be entertaining, win or lose.
For the Lions to actually win, ESPN's Seth Wickersham made it clear that Stafford needs to play well. He examined Stafford in the piece on the Lions, and he talked to various scouts about Stafford. Here are some of the responses Wickersham got:
"Their entire team's success is on Stafford," an NFC scout says, noting the obvious.
"They don't have a running game," the scout said, "so it's all on the quarterback."
"If he's healthy," the scout says, "they're an eight- to 10-win team. If not, they're 4-12 again."
No pressure, right?
It's true that Stafford has to be more consistent than he was last year for the Lions to be successful. Even though the Lions are expected to have a better defense and running game, they need Stafford to be more efficient as a passer. That's not all on him, though. He will have a better chance to be more efficient if he doesn't have to throw 45 passes a game. What's more, if his supporting cast plays better, Stafford will be more successful as well.
I guess I look at it like this: Based on how this team has been put together, they probably won't be carried to many victories by the defense or the running game. Stafford and the passing attack are going to be heavily involved in most or all of the Lions' wins. In that sense, the Lions' success does come down to what Stafford is able to do.
At the same time, though, what Stafford is able to do largely depends on his teammates. There's not much he can do if his receivers are dropping passes or the offensive line isn't giving him time to throw. In that regard, it's not fair to put it all on him. A lot of factors go into a quarterback's play, and the entire Lions offense needs to improve in 2013 for the team to win more games.