Stafford, offense must get better for Lions to be playoff contender

Heading into Week 7 of the NFL season, the question Detroit Lions’ fans most want to ask is “What’s with Matthew Stafford and the team’s offense?”

Stafford has not shown to date last season’s subpar performance was a fluke. He was supposed to rebound with a new offensive coordinator in Joe Lombardi and numerous weapons with which to lead a high-octane attack.

With Calvin Johnson, free agent pickup Golden Tate, Reggie Bush and No. 1 draft pick Eric Ebron, the Lions promised to be an offensive juggernaut that would terrorize opposing defenses.

It hasn’t happened. Instead of lions, Detroit offensive performers have been more like pussycats.

Detroit ranks ninth out of 16 teams in total offensive yards (1,981) in the National Football Conference. In average per game, the Lions are No. 11.

Perhaps learning a new system under Lombardi has been a problem, though the team has had training camp, four preseason games and six regular-season contests to date to work out all the kinks.

Johnson has been hurt, which weakens the Lions’ offense big time. And Bush has been struggling to stay healthy.

But the Lions are supposed to have enough depth on offense to overcome some injuries. But apparently, they don’t.

Stafford has failed to impress. His 185 yards passing on 19 of 33 against Minnesota last Sunday is poor by anyone’s standards and just plain horrible for a QB who’s supposed to be one of the better signal callers in the NFL.

Stafford has to step up his game. He should even run a little more, perhaps a “naked bootleg” once in a while.

The Lions’ offense has been bailed out by the defense this season. The “D” ranks No. 1 in the NFC with 1,624 total yards allowed AND 270.7 a game – just 73.5 on the ground.

Whoever thought we’d be praising the Lions’ defense at this point of the season? This was supposed to be the team’s weak spot, remember?

There’s time for Stafford & Co. to turn it around, maybe today when the Lions host the New Orleans Saints.

But if the team’s offense continues to sputter, any thoughts of a postseason playoff berth will be just pipe dreams.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is cremsburg@