Overanalyzing Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford


The questions surrounding Matthew Stafford are always around. “Can he be elite?” “Will he lead the Lions to a Super bowl?” ” Should the Detroit Lions move on?” These questions pop up every year after every loss. Some questions come from misunderstanding and others from impatience, but the tie that binds them is that they never go away. I want to get to the bottom of this and find out why Stafford seems to be the one Lions quarterback that takes the most heat.

What Stafford is supposed to be.

What we think Stafford is supposed to be. Anytime a quarterback is selected 1st overall he comes with a certain expectation. That expectation is that this quarterback will become Tom Brady or Johnny Unitas. Stafford looked that way in 2011 and is usually expected to always look that way.

Dec 14, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

What Stafford really is.

That 2011 season will likely be the curse of Stafford’s career. In his first full season he set the bar so high that he will never be able to reach it again and thus will be considered a failure. If you really look at that 2011 season you will see it for what it truly was, a fluke. Believe me as a Lions fan I hate to admit that but it’s true. So many things went right that shouldn’t have for example The Lions played the Vikings at home and Joe Webb had the Lions on the ropes inside the 20 yard line with seconds left. DeAndre Levy sacks Webb and forces a fumble and the Lions win. But what the refs missed some how was a massive facemask on Webb. If that gets called the Vikings would have got a free play in the red zone and would have likely won the game and knocked the Lions out of the playoffs. That’s the kind of fluke stuff that put the Lions in the playoffs.

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Detroit Lions

Also how the Lions were able to get away with the one-dimensional chuck it to Calvin strategy is beyond me. In 2012 the Lions one-dimensional attack was figured and they couldn’t do anything, same thing in 2013 and this is why the Lions had a stretch of missing the playoffs. Not because Stafford didn’t throw for 41 touchdowns, but because everyone including the staff thought that he could every year. That’s the kind of poor coaching and mismanagement that the Lions have had. “Don’t worry about it, Stafford will just bombed it to Calvin and everything will be ok. No need to teach him anything.” Stafford showed this season that he is more of a game management type of quarterback. He’s a really good quarterback but not a great quarterback and certainly not elite.  But is that all he can be?

What Stafford can be.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that when a quarterback goes 1st overall, he comes equipped with all the knowledge and tools that an NFL quarterback must possess. That’s not how it works. In the NFL Draft, teams are blindly selecting talent based off a college career in which he plays against a crop of players that only a select few of will make it into the NFL and an even smaller few will be successful in the NFL and combine numbers. Coaching still has to be done.

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The way I see it Matthew Stafford has been getting by on raw talent and nominal teaching. Think about that, Stafford has known the bare necessities about playing quarterback until Caldwell and Cooter showed up. There was drastic change in Stafford’s game last year and if you only focus on the major stats and the amount of times Stafford was sacked then you can’t see it.

Stafford’s footwork was better in the times he didn’t have to scramble away from a sack. If you like stats then you can see the career low interceptions and the 2nd highest completion percentage of his career. But what really must be focused on is his decision-making. You saw less side arm and a lot less forcing the ball to Calvin down field. If the home run shot was there he took it and if it wasn’t he checked downed or tossed it out of bounce.

Jan 4, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws during the game against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The way I see things is that Stafford’s reset button has been hit. The new staff has come in, flashed that thing from Men in Black at Stafford and actually started teaching him to be an NFL quarterback. If it doesn’t work the we can definitely say what Stafford is. If it works it could be a scary thing. Some may loathe Stafford but the fact is the guy has natural talent and the ability to make throw that no other quarterback can make. Analyst don’t just say these things to say them, at least not every time. At 27 Stafford has the gift of time and can still reach that elite pinnacle. It’s going to be a lot of work though, like when you used to hit reset on your Nintendo and had to start Super Mario all over again. If you don’t trust the coaching staff, ask Peyton Manning or Joe Flacco about what they were before Caldwell showed up.

What do you think? Do you think Stafford can still be great? or do you think his time is up? Leave your comments below.

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