Can the best just get better? Matthew Stafford certainly thinks so. In a press conference to discuss his newly signed contract extension, the Detroit Lions quarterback made bold predictions for this teammates and the future of the Lions in Detroit. Stafford believes success starts with wide receiver Calvin Johnson who will only improve according to the quarterback.
"I mean, he thinks he can, which is all that matters," Stafford said. "That guy works harder than anybody I know, and he things he can get better, so I wouldn't put anything past him. He's a guy that can obviously run all the routes, inside, outside, make all the catches, and is a smart football player and a really good teammate."
Last season, Johnson came within just 36 yards of breaking 2,000 yards recieving. He shattered the single-season NFL receiving record once held by Jerry Rice. He did all of that while playing with several broken fingers. The one knock against Johnson was his simple five touchdowns scored, a knock to the 16 he put up in 2011. Part of that lack in production could be credited to the Lions' one-dimensional offense. Stafford threw the ball 727 times. Many of those passes were to Johnson.
Stafford understands that if the Lions are going to be successful, the offense has to be more explosive in the ground game and more balanced. He believes that it all starts with running back Reggie Bush who was signed in the offseason to take pressure off of Stafford. However, that could hurt Johnson's plan to get over 2,000 receiving yards.
After locking in a new deal, Stafford has his eye on the prize. Eager to get into training camp and begin to prepare for 2013, Stafford is simply thinking of February and getting the team to the Super Bowl any way that he can.
"I want to be about the team. I want to help the team out if I can in cap space, whatever it is. I want good players around me as a quarterback. It doesn't hurt to have weapons and, you know, if I can help out anyway I can, I'm happy to do it," Stafford said.
The Lions are set up to take their game to the next level. If Johnson improves off last year's impressive performance and Stafford dictates a more balanced effort, the Lions will reach that goal of playing in February.