And so we begin part five of this series by looking back at the previews of the Chicago Bears' offense and defense, as well as the Minnesota Vikings' offense and defense. Up next is the final team to examine, the Detroit Lions, whose offense takes the field of analysis first.
Stafford returns off a healthy season, finally playing all 16 games for the first time in his three-year career. He broke 5,000 passing yards and attempted the most passes of any QB in the league. He's a borderline top-5 quarterback in the NFL now, and he has an established backup in Hill. Gone is Stanton, however, who signed with the Jets to be Mark Sanchez's backup before the Tebow circus came to New York. Now he's in Indianapolis. Moore started for four years at Boise State, setting the record for most career wins as a starting QB, but has significant concerns about his arm strength. Archer played for the Milwaukee Mustangs last season and spent some time with the Vikings in 2010.
Best and LeShoure return from injured reserve, while Smith was a late-season addition. Morris is a veteran third-down back, who excels in receiving and blocking. Best's speed is his greatest asset, but he's been injury-prone. LeShoure had a dominant season in 2010 at Illinois, and can bring some good receiving skills to the table as well; he needs to stay on the field and out of trouble, however.
Wide Receivers: Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Titus Young, Maurice Stovall, Stefan Logan
Additions: Ryan Broyles (2nd-round pick, Oklahoma), Pat Edwards (UDFA, Houston), Wallace Miles (UDFA, North Carolina A&T), Terrence Toliver (practice squad), Marcus Harris (practice squad), Nate Hughes (practice squad), Jarrett Dillard (free agent, JAX), Lance Long (free agent, SF)
Subtractions: Rashied Davis (free agent)
Johnson is an All-Pro and might be the best wideout in the game. Burleson still has good speed as a deep threat. Young had a good rookie season as a #3, with almost 50 catches and more than 600 yards. Broyles was an explosive weapon at Oklahoma before his ACL blew in November; he holds the NCAA career record for receptions. Logan is a return specialist who rarely sees the field on offense. The rest are fighting for one or two spots on the roster in a special teams and depth role.
The Lions' tighe ends all fit a similar mold: 6'5 and around 260 pounds. Pettigrew is coming into his own as a difference-maker at the tight end position. Scheffler is a good blocker and a big red zone target--six of his 26 catches last year went for scores. Heller is a big veteran body who blocks well. The newcomers don't look to break the roster.
Offensive Line: Jeff Backus, Rob Sims, Dominic Raiola, Stephen Peterman, Gosder Cherilus, Dylan Gandy, Corey Hilliard, Johnny Culbreath, Jason Fox
Additions: Riley Reiff (1st-round pick, Iowa), Jacques McClendon (practice squad), Den Gerberry (practice squad), Rodney Austin (UDFA, Elon), J.C. Oram (UDFA, Weber State)
Subtractions: Leonard Davis (free agent)
The starting five remain from a line that got Stafford sacked 36 times last season, tied with Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo for 6th-most in the league. Stafford dropped back to pass over 150 times more than Rodgers last season, though, so the Lions sack rate was better. Reiff will bring a youth and talent infusion to a tackle spot. Backus' days in the NFL are numbered, as the 12-year veteran is declining. The interior of the line is solid, however.
Do any of these transactions worry you about the Lions' offense moving forward?