Traverse City Record-Eagle

Sports Columnists

May 27, 2014

James Cook: Stafford has no excuses left going into season

Now that the Lions have added wide receiver Golden Tate and spent their No. 1 pick on a potential dynamic tight end in Eric Ebron, there’s no excuses for Matthew Stafford.

The Lions’ 6-10 record last year looks bad, but what’s even worse is how close they were to the playoffs. Even average production from the quarterback spot the second half of the season would have resulted in 2-3 more wins and a strong possibility of a postseason berth. But Detroit received nothing close to even average play from Stafford as the team again collapsed down the stretch.

Now, with all those weapons on offense — Calvin Johnson, Tate, Ebron, Reggie Bush, Joique Bell, Joseph Fauria, etc. — there’s absolutely no excuse for Stafford to not take a huge step forward this season. He also has an above-average line blocking for him, and a coaching staff full of people who know how to get the most out of passers.

People say the Lions needed to draft defense, but when you look at the stats, you’ll see the Lions were smack dab in the middle on both offensive and defensive production. So using a pick on offense isn’t that big a deal. Detroit did load up on defensive players later in the draft, using its second-rounder, both of its fourths and its fifth on that side of the ball.

PISTONS CONTINUE BAD LUCK STREAK: Detroit scored a major coup when it lured Stan Van Gundy to the Motor City.

That came at the cost of having to offer him general manager duties in addition to coaching responsibilities, and we’ll have to see how that plays out. It’s worrisome that Van Gundy hasn’t had any GM experience, and now has total control. As a coach, he owns the sixth-best winning percentage with over 500 games on the bench, but that GM inexperience is puzzling.

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