The Biggest Early Season Storylines for the Detroit Lions
Two games deep, the Detroit Lions' 2012 season has gotten off to an interesting start. A fair share of applaud-worthy signs along with a few head-scratchers. The Lions escaped Week 1 with a victory against St. Louis, then took a tough loss on the road against the San Francisco 49ers, resulting in a 1-1 record.
Even so early in the season, there are plenty of things to ponder regarding the Lions. Some questions that could come with answers soon, and other situations they might have to deal with all year long.
Here are the three biggest headlines regarding the Detroit Lions so far.
1. What's Wrong with Matthew Stafford?
The Detroit Lions rely heavily on the performance of quarterback Matthew Stafford. Luckily, however, the Lions have put together a 1-1 record despite the glaring struggles of their franchise quarterback.
Stafford spoiled the franchise with a 5,000-yard season and 41 touchdowns. Expectations pointed to Stafford's numbers coming down, but his efficiency and accuracy hopefully would improve.
Thus far, his season has been more puzzling than impressive.
Stafford has completed 63 percent of his passes with 585 yards and only two touchdowns. Interceptions and other bad passes have been the focus of his season so far.
Stafford has thrown four interceptions this season, including three first-half interceptions against the St. Louis Rams in Week 1. Stafford has missed open receivers keying in on Calvin Johnson too often, has under and over-thrown his targets, and at times has held the ball too long instead of throwing the ball away.
The Lions need Stafford to pick up his slack if they have hopes of progressing. Being the most important player on their roster, he needs to take the next step in developing into an elite quarterback. So far he's off to a bad start, but the talent and weapons around him will always give him a chance.
The Lions have been limping throughout the season, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Detroit has played without their best playmakers in the secondary, including cornerback Chris Houston and Louis Delmas. Houston's ankle and Delmas' knee surgery have kept both players off the field this regular season.
The Lions lost rookie Bill Bentley to a concussion in Week 1 versus St. Louis. Now the Lions picked up more bad news on Monday when newly acquired cornerback Drayton Florence is done for the season with a forearm injury he sustained against San Francisco.
Detroit has also been without running back Jahvid Best since Week 6 of last year due to concussion issues. Doctors didn't clear Best for physical contact during the offseason, leading to his place on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Best won't be cleared until Week 6 of this season, but possibly might not see the field at all in 2012.
Head coach Jim Schwartz has given the endorsement of Bentley's return next week against Tennessee. Even with that addition, the Lions are in a scary position with poor depth in the secondary and with their playmakers injured on the sideline.
Replacements John Wendling and Erik Coleman aren't of the same caliber of Delmas and can only do so much. The Lions need to get healthy as soon as possible to give their defense a chance.
3. Breakout Season?
Coming into the 2012 season, wide receiver Titus Young had capabilities of a breakout season. His hands and route running had improved during the offseason. After his scuffle with Louis Delmas during a summer practice, the Lions were hoping to see a step-up in maturity and increase in production.
So far, Young hasn't provided either.
Young has caught only two balls for 25 yards. Too many times has the second-year receiver looked disengaged giving poor effort on routes and struggling to get open.
The character issues continue to be a problem after Young headbutted cornerback Janoris Jenkins against the Rams. The sophomoric act earned him a 15-yard penalty and a seat on the bench for the rest of the game.
The potential of Titus Young is too bright for him to make these stupid mistakes. Luckily, rookie Ryan Broyles hasn't seen the field yet so Young hasn't had much threat of being replaced. However, if the production doesn't pick up and Young continues to act like a child on the field, he could spend a long portion of the season in Schwartz's doghouse.