Originally written on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 8/14/12

MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 26: Quarterback Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions looks on prior to the start of the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field on September 26, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

In 2011, the Detroit Lions' stunning reversal of fortune was driven by many unique variables, perhaps the most important of which was an uptick in play and health at the quarterback position. Finally, Matthew Stafford stayed upright and played a full season. In the process, he showed fans how grand football life can be when a team finally finds "their guy" at the signal caller position.

What's to be expected here in 2012? We spread the field with our first, bi-weekly positional preview installment leading up to the regular season.


Who's the Guy? Obviously, it's Matthew Stafford, Detroit's do it all, make every throw, strong armed 5,000 yard passer. Coming off 2011's excellent statistical year, Stafford has his own lofty shoes to fill. Fortunately, he's also got Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, a seasoned Titus Young and a cast of excellent tight ends to toss the ball at. Other than worse troubles within the running game, not much should be able to slow the arial attack down.

Second in Command? Shaun Hill, the Lions steady and venerable backup. If 2010 taught us anything positive despite Stafford's injuries, its that Hill can be counted on to step in and be the guy if need be. Though he wasn't needed in 2011, the Lions and their fans can rest easy knowing they've got an established backup waiting in the wings.

Others Worth Noting: Kellen Moore. Usually, it's not worth noting an undrafted free agent fighting to be a third string quarterback, but Moore comes in highly regarded as the winningest quarterback in college football history. He didn't perform well in the opener against Cleveland, going 4-14 for 40 yards with one interception despite showing well in camp. He's said to have an inside track to the third quarterback position, but that's likely because he's the only candidate. 

Biggest Key to Positional Success? Avoiding the bad interception and good offensive line play. At times, Stafford has a touch of the Brett Favre syndrome. He tries to make every impossible throw, even in moments when he should simply eat the ball and take a sack. Friday night this was on display again, when Stafford was bull rushed and threw a costly interception off his back foot. Those are the kind of plays which must be avoided in 2012. As many times as he can thread the needle to Johnson and company, Stafford can also make a misread when he should have thrown the ball away. That's a part of continuing maturation that comes in time. In 2011, the offensive line also did a sneaky good job of protecting Stafford. That's going to have to continue

Best/Worst Case Scenarios: Best? Stafford repeats last year's performance and throws for more gaudy numbers. The Lions have another great year as a result, and qualify for the playoffs. Worst? Stafford gets dinged up and plays inconsistent. The lack of a running game hurts, and teams figure out how to defend Detroit's air attack. Hill and Moore have to play significant minutes.

Outlook: Expect Stafford to have another great season throwing the ball and expect his prolific targets to continue to maximize his talent. He might not throw for 5,000 yards, but that won't matter.Health, always an important variable, remains something to quietly monitor. If the running game and offensive line are average at best, the Lions can still have success throwing the ball. Like 2011, expect that theme to continue into 2012.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Bills suspend assistant coach for first six games of 2015

Trent Richardson has 50-50 chance at making Raiders roster

Rex Ryan takes subtle jabs at Jets' upper management

Everett Golson responds to Paul Finebaum's criticism

Mark Sanchez says it ‘crazy’ to call Chip Kelly racist


Malcolm Butler daring Brady to throw his way in practice

Geno Smith confident worst is behind him and the Jets

Ronda Rousey knocks out Bethe Correia in 34 seconds

Von Miller earns dismissal from NFL’s drug program

Ian Kennedy watches birth of daughter on FaceTime before start

Matt Williams wants Bryce Harper to stop getting ejected

WATCH: Dez Bryant throws punches at training camp

There's no need for Notre Dame to join a conference

WATCH: Benches clear during Royals-Blue Jays game

Jim Harbaugh gives Nicki Minaj a shoutout on Twitter

The Kardashian sisters still call Caitlyn Jenner 'Bruce'

Tennessee fan recreates Neyland Stadium in backyard

Lolo Jones: I could last at least a minute against Rousey

Bears have very strict rules for media during training camp

Jamaal Charles: I feel like I'm the LeBron James of football

Ronda Rousey: I'll fight Cyborg if she stops taking steroids

Danny Garcia beats Paulie Malignaggi, remains undefeated

Bobby Wagner, Seahawks agree to contract extension

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Notre Dame doesn't need a conference

Rex takes jabs at Jets' management

Sanchez: It's 'crazy' to call Chip racist

Ronda Rousey calls out Cyborg

Five most underrated players in the NFL

Five potential NFL salary cap casualties this preseason

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Pirates do Pirates at deadline: Neat little moves

Mets acquire Cespedes from Tigers

Ranking the NFL’s 32 head coaches

Five worst baseball trades since 2000

Examining the state of the NFL

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker