I figured that the Lions were heading into a buzzsaw of a game in New Orleans last night, but hopefully their 45-28 loss ends up being a speed bump on the way to future playoff success. Matthew Stafford seems to think that this will be the case.
It’s easy for Stafford to be optimistic. He threw for 380 yards and 3 touchdowns (and ran for another) in his playoff debut. He has the best wide receiver on the planet who breaks playoff debut records like it’s his job (because it is). He has two promising, young running backs that will return next year to help solidify the rushing attack. Oh, and he’s still only 23 years old.
The real question that the Lions must answer in the offseason is on the other side of the football. The front four, when not being blatantly held, is one of the most dominant in football. Given their relative youth, this unit will only continue to get better. The linebackers and secondary, however, still need work. Drew Brees has been torching defenses all year, but giving up nearly 1,000 passing yards in the past two weeks is simply unacceptable. Martin Mayhew & Co. have done a phenomenal job of getting this team out of the NFL’s cellar, but now the bar has been raised. Hopefully Stafford, Johnson, and the rest of this team is up to the challenge.