With a new coordinator, a No. 1 running back who has yet to play a full season, and a reshaped group of pass catchers, the potential of Lions' offense remains to be seen.
Judging by how NFL.com feels about the Lions' "triplets," no one should mistake them for the second coming of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Detroit comes in 19th in NFL.com's "triplets" rankings — that is, each team's top quarterback, running back and pass catcher — which was posted Wednesday, breaking down the Lions' top trio of quarterback Matthew Stafford, running back Kerryon Johnson and wide receiver Kenny Golladay.
Deputy editor Ali Bhanpuri has a formula for his rankings, which he explains here. He writes that the arrival of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, and the potential of Johnson most likely means' Stafford's best statistical seasons are behind him.
"The numbers he posted this past year — many career worsts — are more in line with what we should expect from the 11th-year pro going forward," writes Bhanpuri, who ranks Stafford 18th overall among quarterbacks, "as his role in the Lions' offense is likely to be different from what was required by the throw-it-1,000-times strategy the team employed earlier in his career. ...
"Instead, he'll be asked to be efficient with his opportunities and come up big when the team needs him most ..."
Bhanpuri ranks Johnson 16th among running backs, after the former Auburn star rushed for 641 yards and a 5.4 average in 10 games as a rookie (including the Lions' first and second 100-yard games since 2013), while also catching 32 passes for 213 yards. Veteran C.J. Anderson was brought aboard in the offseason to help lighten Johnson's load.
Golladay, meanwhile, enters his third season after posting 70 receptions for 1,063 yards last season. The Lions made a number of changes to their group of pass catchers since the middle of last season, starting with the trade of slot receiver Golden Tate. The Lions added slot receiver Danny Amendola and tight end Jesse James in free agency, and drafted tight end T.J. Hockenson at No. 8 overall.
Golladay took over WR1 duties last season and quietly broke 1,000 receiving yards while averaging 15.2 yards per catch," Bhanpuri writes. "And though I expect the young wideout to keep improving in Year 3, the potential changes to the team's offensive philosophy could limit his production."
The New Orleans Saints top the rankings, led by quarterback Drew Brees, running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Michael Thomas.