Matthew Stafford is already a Pro Bowl quarterback, has two playoff appearances on his resume, and is a 7th year veteran in the league. He is expected to make a large contract jump this offseason, and may be the most coveted free agent in the league, as he will be 29 years old this upcoming season. The Lions have a lot of cap space to spend, and are expected to be aggressive in their pursuit of an elite quarterback. In short, the Lions are in prime position to make a massive splash this offseason.
Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions were in the midst of an uncharacteristic mid-season slump, having posted just four wins over the last nine weeks and failing to score more than 17 points (or less than 3 points) in any of those games. Injuries had also started to creep into the Lions offense, as the team lost key offensive players such as WR Marvin Jones and RB LeGarrette Blount to season-ending injuries. While the Lions offense was clearly in need of a boost, the team had failed to identify an effective backup to Stafford with any regularity this season, and so far, the team had been unable to find any, having been forced to use undrafted rookie QB Austin Davis or journeyman Josh Johnson.Legendary Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson wants the world to know about Van Jefferson.
If you’re not familiar with Jefferson, a former second rounder, don’t worry. If Johnson has his way, the entire league will know the second-year receiver very soon.
Calvin Johnson (L) yelled at Rams receiver Van Jefferson on the podcast. Can Jefferson have a big year in 2021? | Dave Reginek/Getty Images; Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Don’t be surprised if Johnson joins the Los Angeles Rams this season, but he won’t do it for nothing.
During a recent appearance on theThe Hookpodcast, Johnson discussed his relationship with new Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, his former Lions teammate. The former All-Pro receiver said he thumbed his nose at Stafford, who the Lions had sold to the Rams earlier this year, and that they still have a good relationship.
However, Johnson has his eye on another player on the Rams’ offense who has been linked to the Lions.
We also have a friend in Van Jefferson. Sean Jefferson, he was my receivers coach in Detroit. His son is playing with Matthew now, so that’s pretty cool.
Sean Jefferson, who coached Johnson with the Lions from 2007-2012, is now the receivers coach with the Arizona Cardinals.
The Los Angeles Rams stockpile receivers and create a weapons shortage at Stafford. But Johnson unwittingly planted the seed that Jefferson could rise above the mob in his second NFL season.
In 16 games as a rookie, Jefferson caught 19 balls for 220 yards and a touchdown. He also had six receptions for 46 yards and a touchdown in two postseason games. In his second pro season, he can improve on all these numbers.
It should be noted that Johnson never explicitly said Jefferson would have a breakthrough season with the Rams. Still, the new Pro Football Hall of Fame member is curious to see what his former coach’s son can accomplish with Stafford at quarterback.
The simple act of acknowledging someone’s presence often says much more than intended. Now that Johnson has confirmed Jefferson’s presence on the podcast, football fans may have more reason to keep an eye on the young receiver’s progress, especially for the fantasy football draft.
The only thing holding Jefferson back from a real breakthrough are the players in front of him. Cooper Kapp and Robert Woods return as key players, and the Rams have contracted controversial speedster DeSean Jackson this season.
If Jefferson can beat out Jackson and Tutu Atwell for the No. 3 receiver job, he could definitely be part of the Rams’ offense. Don’t be surprised if Sean McVay implements a pass rush system that utilizes Stafford’s arm strength and experience.
Jefferson impressed in college with his speed and showed impressive route running skills as a freshman. These traits could make him a dangerous weapon in a Stafford-led offense.
That means Jefferson is nowhere near Johnson’s average (81 catches, 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns). But Johnson has at least laid the groundwork to see Jefferson as a potential breakthrough candidate next season.
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