Detroit Lions  


Matthew Stafford: Load falls on me without Megatron


When perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver Calvin Johnson retired, somewhat surprisingly, after the 2015 season, the 30-year-old admitted that Detroit not being a championship contender factored into him walking away.

In other words, he didn't see much hope of the franchise's losing ways changing. Quarterback Matthew Stafford doesn't see Detroit's fortunes being so dire, however, his assessment spoke to the seasonal trends of teams making and missing the playoffs, rather than the quality of the Lions.

"The NFL is such an up and down league, I mean teams make the playoffs one year, don't make it the next year, it happens every year," Stafford said after Gatorade's High School Athlete of the Year awards ceremony Tuesday in Los Angeles. " But, you know it's a difficult game, he went through a lot, he took a beating, you could tell physically that he was hurting and his ability to show up for us and play on Sundays was amazing."

Stafford said more of the offensive load falls on him now that Megatron is gone. However, defenses will play them differently, which means the offense could be more effective -- if each player does his job, accordingly.

"No question, it puts more on everybody, and everybody has to raise their level of play," said Stafford, saying he will feel more of a burden to perform. "Calvin was a big-time threat and a guy that made big-time plays. With him absent, more opportunities for everyone else, we just have to capitalize on those opportunities.

Detroit has played several games without Johnson because of injuries and Stafford said those samples of life without the potential future Hall of Famer will help in this transition.

"It almost became non-important for me to look at tape sometimes because whatever [opponents] showed me on tape was not what I was going to get on Sundays when Calvin Johnson was playing," Stafford said. "So in that respect, hopefully less in-game adjustments that I'll have to make and the coaching staff will have to make to see how they're defending us. It's on us to go execute and score points."

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.



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