We all know the difference that one player can make in the NFL. Any Lions fans with a set of eyes will tell you that after the 2019 season. The loss of Matthew Stafford to another back injury sent the Lions’ season into a death spiral and reinforced just how important Stafford is to this season’s success, regardless of the weapons they do or do not have around him.
Any time we talk about an MVP on this team or the biggest contributor or any other phrasing of the question, the easy answer is Stafford. Today, we ask who the next one would be.
Wednesday open thread: Who can the Lions afford to lose the least in 2020, NOT named Matthew Stafford?
I think it’s really important to highlight the difference between this question and simply asking who the best player is. Because of that difference, I think the answer lies in either Desmond Trufant or Jeff Okudah.
Behind those two, there’s very little depth. Heck, that’s already assuming Okudah is effective in year one. While I have confidence he will be, cornerback has arguably the steepest learning curve in the NFL behind quarterback.
If Trufant or Okudah—whichever of the two proves to be CB1 next season—goes down for an extended period of time, we could see the Lions defense get chopped to pieces like they did in 2019, regardless of how improved the pass rush or linebackers are. I want to have faith in Amani Oruwariye’s abilities, but to bet on him after such a small sample size in 2019 would be risky. Likewise, Justin Coleman is made for the slot and would likely struggle for extended time on the outside.
While the lines are as blurred as ever between slot and outside corners, the lack of size and proven skill beyond the Lions’ first two guys defending the outside raises serious questions for me about what happens if one of them goes down.
Who do you think is the least expendable non-quarterback on this team? Let us know in the comments.