- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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Our live chat Tuesday took a predictable turn -- a ton of great questions and just not enough time to answer all of them.
So as is becoming tradition here on the Detroit Lions page, I’ll answer some more queries I didn’t quite get to Tuesday. If your question still hasn’t been answered, shoot me an email at Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet with the hashtag #LionsMailbag for use in this weekend’s mailbag.
Now on to your questions, starting with Calvin Johnson.
Nathan (Boca Raton): What do you see Calvin (Johnson)'s future and production with the Lions over the remainder of his contract?
This is one of the most important questions facing the Lions over the next three-to-four seasons. Johnson played in fewer games, had fewer targets, yards and receptions than any season since 2010. Part of that had to do with injuries, though, as he missed two games in the 2013 season. While a lot of the moves the Lions have made in the offseason have been focused on improving Stafford, the secondary reason could be prolonging the career of Johnson.
The 6-foot-5 receiver receives a ton of attention from opposing defenses and takes a ton of hits because of it. If Golden Tate, Eric Ebron and the emergence of a third receiver can take some pressure and pounding off of Johnson’s body, that could stretch the productive portion of his career. While I hate to predict a player’s decline I’d say Johnson, who turns 29 in September, will have two more exceptional seasons and then start to fall off a little bit. The bigger question will be is if it is a dramatic drop-off like Shaun Alexander or a slower decline into his mid-30s. My guess is he ends up playing for another five or so seasons, give or take.
Colin (mountoursville): About fantasy -- Megatron first pick?
No. Then again, I wouldn’t take a wide receiver in the first round ever. Actually think Johnson’s numbers could dip a bit because of what was mentioned in the prior question. The Lions could move things around a little more, so his value in a PPR league could lessen a little. He should still be the first receiver off the board in my opinion, but I’m looking at quarterback first and then quarterback second.
The one league I participate in fully, though, is weird. In a 16-team league, we start two quarterbacks, three running backs, four wide receivers, two tight ends, two kickers and two defenses. It forces you to know essentially the whole league. This aided me greatly before I started covering the NFL, actually. But quarterbacks are a premium. It’s a quarterback-driven NFL, so start there if you can get an elite one. I’d draft Matthew Stafford over Calvin Johnson.
James (England) What do the Lions need to achieve to look back on 2014 as a successful season?
Easy, James. The Lions need to make the playoffs in 2014 for this season to be successful. If the team somehow wins the NFC North and gets a home playoff game, they need to win that first playoff game, too -- especially if it is in the wild-card round. This team has been constructed to win now and they hired Jim Caldwell to both develop Stafford and also accomplish that. If the playoffs -- or at the very least a winning record -- isn’t established in the first year, I don’t think it will be considered a success.
BigJShaky (Champaign, IL) Should we be worried about Glover Quin's health? He is arguably the most important player in our secondary and seems to be a bit banged up.
Not yet. It is June and players sit out for many reasons. He’s been practicing on a limited basis, so it all feels pretty precautionary. If there was any concern, they would hold him out of spring workouts because there is no doubt he is the most important player in the secondary. He might be the most critical player on the entire defense because of his experience and consistency in the back end. If he isn’t practicing fully come training camp, then there is reason to be at least a little bit worried. Until then, breathe easy over in Illinois, sir, and get ready to watch some football and John Groce's brand of college basketball in the winter.
Frederick (Detroit, MI): Special teams: How are punt and kickoff coverage teams shaping up and will we use our giant Des to go after more blocked kicks. Suh seems to be the only lineman I recall having blocked kicks.
Multi-part answer here, Frederick. While rookie Caraun Reid hasn’t played an NFL down yet, he has a penchant for blocking kicks. He blocked seven of them in college, which if you think about it is all sorts of freaky and impressive in itself. My guess is he ends up on both punt block and field goal block units just based off that alone. As far as the structure of the coverage units, that won’t shake itself out until the preseason at least. Last year’s top gunners -- Jeremy Ross and Don Carey -- both return this season. That said, if Ross takes more of a role in the offense, it could be difficult to keep him as a four-corps special teams player as well. Maybe Isa Abdul-Quddus or DeJon Gomes can slide in there. But this won’t be settled until the preseason.