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4 reasons Matthew Stafford will bounce back in 2019

Stafford is due for a bounce-back year. Here is why.

NFL: Detroit Lions-Minicamp Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no secret Matthew Stafford had a really bad 2018 season. It was the Murphy’s Law of seasons for the Detroit Lions quarterback. Just about everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong.

This, of course, led to the thought that the Lions were going to move on from Stafford this offseason and draft a new quarterback to come in and take over. In Wednesday’s notes we found that there are still some writers out there that think the Lions will move on from Stafford in the 2020 draft after what they expect to be another down year.

Some may be down on Stafford and believe he is due for another down year. But there are a lot of reasons to believe Stafford will bounce back in 2019. Today we’re going to talk about those reasons and how it will impact the Lions going forward.

He doesn’t have a broken back anymore

Matthew Stafford has gone from the “china doll” No. 1 pick to one of the NFL’s iron men. At this point, he’s sixth all time for most consecutive starts by a quarterback, despite playing through some serious injuries. The biggest one of them all was the big news story this week. Stafford played part of the 2018 season with a broken back.

A lot of that has to do with Stafford getting sacked 40 times for the fourth time in five years. So while Stafford is going into this season healthy, this is going to be something where Stafford is going to have to rely on his offensive line to stay healthy and keep him on his feet.

The main point here is that Stafford is all healed up. That is going to go a long way for his mobility and throwing motion. And, hopefully, he won’t have to worry about getting hurt even more every time he takes a snap.

Everyone else is healthy, too

The Lions’ offensive skill players took a beating in 2018. Marvin Jones Jr. went down Week 9, Kerryon Johnson went down the next week, Theo Riddick went down with an ankle injury for a bit, Bruce Ellington came in and got hurt and Michael Roberts spent some time on the injury list too.

While it’s not an injury, the Lions also traded away their leading receiver in Week 7 when they sent Golden Tate to the Eagles for a third-round pick. That was a big blow for Stafford and the offense.

Now Stafford will go into the 2019 season with not only Kenny Golladay, who showed he could be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL in 2018, but with a healthy Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, and Jermaine Kearse.

Don’t forget running back Kerryon Johnson will be back as well. With him, the Lions actually appear to have a running game that can take all the pressure off Stafford and keep defenses honest.

New weapons

Danny Amendola will play the most prominent role in Detroit’s offense this year. He’s expected to play the Golden Tate role in 2019. He’s proven over his career that’s something he’s capable of doing. Probably not as well as Golden, obviously, but it’s something he’s succeeded at.

But he’s not the only new kid on the block that will be hangin tough for the Lions in 2019. C.J. Anderson signed with Detroit and will help the Lions run game continue to improve. It actually seems promising when you look at the group of guys you see in the group.

Perhaps most importantly, however, was the complete revamp the Lions made in the tight end room. That should, in theory, change everything for the Lions in both the run and pass blocking game, as well as improve their receiving corps. First-round pick T.J. Hockenson, free agent signings Jesse James and Logan Thomas and even seventh-round pick Isaac Nauta present a group that should without a doubt be better than the group the Lions put together in 2018—a group that was so bad that the Lions literally got rid of everybody.

Darrell Bevell

This is a big one. One of the biggest problems with the Lions in 2018 was offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. The man was hell bent on making the screen play and short passes underneath the new offense of the NFL in an era where quarterbacks are slinging the ball around the field more than ever. When you have a guy with an arm like Stafford’s, that doesn’t make any sense. It failed horribly and now Cooter is the running backs coach for the Jets? Okay.

Enter Darrell Bevell. I understand that everyone thinks the Lions are going to be a run-first team. I think the reports on that slightly over exaggerated. The Lions aren’t going to cast off Matthew Stafford and all the players he can throw the ball to in order to run a high school offense that runs on every play and throws the ball like five times.

The Lions clearly have angled the offseason towards a balanced offense. Set up the pass with the run. Set up the run with the pass. Everything is on equal footing. For a man that’s been sacked 213 times since 2014 and has thrown the ball 2,908 times in that span, I’m sure Stafford will welcome the opportunity to not shoulder so much of the load and get hung out to dry.

And Bevell has made it clear, he wants to bring the long ball back to Detroit.

“When we throw the ball, we want to be able to throw it down the field and get big plays,” Bevell said last month.

That should be music to Stafford’s ears considering just how often the Lions dinked and dunked their way downfield last season.

With all these things compiled together, there’s no reason to think that Stafford can’t have a bounce back season and, at the very least, have a season similar to one he put up in 2017... but hopefully without the 47 sacks.