Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Stafford looks to rebound from a frustrating 2012.
As every NFL fan knows, the most important player on the football field is the quarterback. With the Lions that statement cannot be any truer—and not only because they were built to be an offensive juggernaut.
The Lions have talent across the board, but they are very young. As I've already said, they have a number of players in key positions that have been given the "raw" or "great potential" label. They also have a number of players with very little starting experience penciled in as starters.
Those players need leadership and Stafford, being the field general, needs to assume that responsibility. I'm not saying that he needs to morph into Ray Lewis overnight. That kind of transformation would be artificial and no one would respect him for it.
For Stafford, leadership means getting it done on the field.
In other words, he needs to play better. It's true he threw for nearly 5,000 yards last season, but it wasn't pretty. More importantly he wasn't efficient, and he didn't connect with receivers enough when and where it matters most—in the red zone.
Many "experts"—such as ESPN's Seth Wickersham and Michael David Smith of nbcsports.com—have cited Stafford's mechanics as a reason for his up-and-down play.
Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with his mechanics. I think he uses creative methods to try and make plays. It's not like he sits back in the pocket and calmly underhands the ball to his receivers. He's often pressured or is running for his life when he attempts off-balance passes.
Regardless, his touchdowns and completion percentage were down in 2012, and he has to do better with his decision-making and command of the offense.
The addition of dual-threat rusher/receiver Reggie Bush will certainly help give Stafford another weapon to target besides Calvin Johnson.
Just as important as his on-field performance is his on-field attitude. As the season wore on last year, Stafford was frequently seen screaming at receivers. While every great quarterback has dressed down a receiver from time to time, there is a time and a place.
He needs to learn that, and act accordingly. He's not free from blame, and there is just as much to gain from him taking accountability when a play goes bad than criticizing receivers on national TV.
Stafford needs to realize that he is not a finished product either. He makes his fair share of mistakes, and no one screams at him to get his act together.
Maybe someone should, but no one will: The Lions just made a gigantic investment in Stafford, one that will keep him around through 2017. So, the team is now officially his.
Still, Stafford should heed the advice of Uncle Ben for success in 2013: "With great power comes great responsibility."