Early indications from Lions’ training camp are that the plan is working pretty darn well. According to Mike Mulholland of mLive.com, Stafford and Tate are starting to click in the days leading up to the team’s first preseason game:
You get a real sense quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Golden Tate are close to being on the same page. The two connected on several passes and the quarterback-receiver relationship is starting to look more natural. On one seven-on-seven snap, Tate found a clear lane down the middle of the field out of the slot and Stafford hit him in stride for a long gain.
One can hardly overstate how important this development would be for the Lions and their gun-slingin’, side-armin’ quarterback. Stafford has spent the last number of seasons forcing targets in the direction of the man they call Megatron, regardless of double or triple coverage.
That is not necessarily a bad plan, as anybody who has watched Johnson knows by now. But it is far from fool proof. Just imagine what this offense might look like if Stafford gets cleaner looks at Johnson and at another solid receiver like Tate. That is especially true since Tate serves as a legit deep threat.
Stafford will surely still have his share of sailed passes and side-arm misfires into the backs of his offensive linemen this season, but with a real receiver on the other side of Johnson, not to mention weapons all across the rest of the offense in Reggie Bush, Eric Ebron, and others, big things could lie ahead.