Coming off the franchise's first playoff appearance since the Clinton Administration, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford feels the team should benefit from its continuity on the coaching staff.
"We have the same coordinators the last three years and a lot of the same players, so from that standpoint, we don't have to put in the base offense or base defense. We're just tweaking and adding on right now," Stafford told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. "And then obviously, I think we're better because of the draft picks we got. Every year, you add talent as a team through free agency and the draft, and we were able to do that again this year."
The Lions were not active in free agency, wisely devoting their resources to keeping the talent they already had. Pro Bowl wide receiver Calvin Johnson received his mega extension, and middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch and left tackle Jeff Backus were re-signed.
With the 34-year-old Backus suffering a torn biceps in the playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Lions used their first round pick on Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff, who will likely be the long-term replacement for Backus. Reiff, the only Lions draft choice yet to sign a contract, has made a favorable impression on the player he could be protecting for the next 8-10 years.
"He's a big guy," Stafford said. "He's a very typical offensive lineman, doesn't say too much, but he goes in there and works hard. I think he'll fit right in with the guys."