Troy Aikman says Matthew Stafford can lead the Detroit Lions to the Super Bowl

Posted Jan 31, 2013

Troy Aikman believes Matthew Stafford can take the Detroit Lions to the Super Bowl ... but he also thinks Stafford needs more weapons around him

New Orleans - Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford grew up in Texas a huge fan of the Cowboys and Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman.

It turns out Aikman, who won three Super Bowls with the Cowboys in the 1990s and is now a color analyst at FOX, says the feeling is mutual.

"I'm a big fan of Matt's and I think he's an exceptional player," Aikman said Thursday at the Super Bowl "He's obviously a guy they can build things around and they're fortunate to have him."

But Aikman said Stafford wouldn't be able to take the Detroit Lions to their first-ever Super Bowl without more help around him.

"With that team, there's just some other things they need from the team around him to go on and do some of the things they are hoping to do," he said.

"I think he's absolutely the caliber of quarterback to take them to a Super Bowl, they just have to take some of the pressure off him."

Stafford set an NFL record this year with 727 attempts. He threw for nearly 5,000 yards (4,967), but the offense relied too heavily on his right arm.

"It's hard when you're the guy shouldering the load the way he's had to the last several years," Aikman said. "I think if they get a little more around him and help him out – and that's in a lot of different areas – absolutely I think he can lead them to one of these (Super Bowl)."

Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew feels the same way, which is why he told reporters after the season that he'd never stop trying to surround Stafford with weapons.

"The way I look at it, when you have a quarterback like Matthew Stafford, you want to keep giving him weapons and that's what we're going to try and keep doing," he said.

"That's something we're constantly focused on. How can we help (Stafford and Johnson) make more plays and I'm not going to stop being focused on that."

The run game and the interior of the offensive line would be a good place to start. Mayhew said Stafford faced way too much pressure up the middle this year and the Lions also struggled to run up the middle. They'll certainly be looking to upgrade there this offseason.

The Lions also ranked 23rd running the football and failed to have a 1,000 yard rusher for the eighth consecutive season. Mayhew has talked openly about wanting to add a big-play back into the fold if Jahvid Best can't return from his latest concussion.