Not a lot of things went right for the Detroit Lions in 2012.
Coming off a playoff season in 2011, the Lions were a popular pick to compete for the NFC North title. Instead, Detroit lost its last eight games, including a rout at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale in December.
But that was last year. Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is impressed with what he sees from the Lions so far in 2013, especially from quarterback Matthew Stafford.
“Outstanding young player, earned his money, showed how tough he is — playing with the shoulder (injuries) and the things he’s gone through,” Arians said Wednesday. “I’ve always enjoyed watching him warm up, because he can make every throw and he can make spectacular throws.”
Stafford’s top target, Calvin Johnson, is arguably the top wide receiver in the NFL. Arians knows his defense will have its hands full dealing with #81 Sunday.
“Obviously, Calvin Johnson is a freak of nature as size, speed, strength — everything that goes into a wide receiver in a defensive end body,” he said.
But Arians doesn’t think the Lions offense, which rolled up 28 first downs and 469 total yards in their season-opening win over Minnesota, is powered solely by Stafford and Johnson.
“Everybody they have is capable of beating you,” he said. “You can’t just look to one guy and say ‘we’re going to shut this guy down,’ and think you’re good.
“I think the wild card to this year’s team is Reggie Bush. Reggie has got all the skills that he’s always had, as a receiver and as a runner. When you have the weapons and spread the field like they do, it’s very hard to get another double-team, and you’d like to have a double-team on Reggie, but it’s not possible as a runner and potential receiver.”
Bush had a huge impact in his first game as a Lion, running for 90 yards on 21 carries and catching four passes for 101 yards and a touchdown.
“Those things are the problems you have facing their offense,” Arians said.