Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has high expectations
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT — Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions avoided a potential distraction recently by agreeing on a deal that gives him the NFL’s richest contract.
He and the team still have a lot of work to do.
Detroit selected Stafford No. 1 overall in 2009 — after its infamous 0-16 season — and he has panned out, unlike many of the franchise’s picks. By drafting and keeping Stafford, the Lions have finally ended their decades-long search for a franchise quarterback.
With a strong arm, penchant for leading comebacks, and likable presence in the locker room. he helped Detroit do enough to get in the 2016 playoffs despite a late-season slide, appearing in his third postseason in a six-season stretch.
Still, the Lions have been stuck on one playoff win for more than a half century and haven’t won an NFL title in six decades.
Stafford is determined to give a desperate fan base something to cheer about in the playoffs.
“Health is a factor, and timing and all those kinds of things, but we’re an extremely talented team,” Stafford said after getting a $135 million, five-year extension. “We’ve got great depth. We’ve built that through the draft and free agency.
“I expect great things from this team.”
Lions management must also believe better days are ahead. They removed a banner that simply listed postseason appearances as part of a $100 million project to refurbish Ford Field.
Detroit has ranked among the NFL’s worst in yards rushing the last three years. In Week 1 of 2016, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick combined for 120 yards receiving and 108 yards rushing in a 39-35 victory at Indianapolis. That was as good as it got. Abdullah hurt his left foot in Week 2 and missed the rest of the season. Riddick was limited to 10 games, missing five with an injured left wrist.