Lions: Joe Lombardi Totally Wrong About Matthew Stafford’s Trajectory


After another terrible offensive performance by the Detroit Lions, everyone from Matthew Stafford to offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi to head coach Jim Caldwell have been under fire this week.

Despite the fire storm swirling outside, Lombardi defended his quarterback when speaking with the media today. Caldwell had already declared that Stafford was still the starting quarterback despite the benching against the Arizona Cardinals, but Lombardi went a step further today, expressing confidence in the direction Stafford is heading.

Anyone who has watched the Lions offense this year would take major issue with this statement but what does the data, with its keen ability to be free of emotion, have to say? The Pride of Detroit twitter account was quick to fire in with a take:

But with the high variability of individual game passer ratings, the picture is difficult to see. Even putting a trendline to it, there is little to be gained with such a low r-squared value. At an r-squred of 0.06, the trendline is basically saying there is a very low level of correlation between the trendline and the data. It’s a scatter plot.

While that is valuable in itself – that shows just how wildly inconsistent Stafford and the Lions offense has been in the last two seasons – it doesn’t give us a good picture of the overall trajectory. So I set out to take a look at how Stafford’s cumulative passer rating has changed over time.

Spoiler alert: it’s not going in the right direction.

It doesn’t take a math nerd to understand that if Stafford’s trajectory was on the upswing, his cumulative passer rating would be on the upswing. As more and more games get added into the data set to compute Stafford’s rating, the picture gets clearer and clearer as to what kind of Stafford is, and is becoming, under Lombardi. Bigger sample size = more accurate picture. As the picture gets clearer, the more clear it is that Stafford is not on a favorable trajectory.

Again, not earthshattering news to anyone who has watched Stafford and the Lions offense, but a clear rebuttal to Lombardi’s public comment today.

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