Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford needs to perform better down the stretch

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Lions need more production out of Matthew Stafford if they hope to salvage the second half of their 2020 season.

We can sit here and point the finger to the Detroit Lions’ lack of production on the defensive side of the field or what feels like an atrocious coaching effort from Matt Patricia; however, quarterback Matthew Stafford needs to be much better moving forward.

Week after week, we see Lions head coach Patricia talk about how Detroit’s pad level needs to be better, how the coaching staff needs to do a better job preparing the players leading up to Sunday’s game.  If it sounds like a broken record, it is.

We were informed that Patricia would be this defensive guru, but we’ve failed to see anything that resembles that description. Thus far, the problem in 2020 is that the Detroit Lions offense has been equally as disappointing, and it starts with poor quarterback play.

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We’re just a year removed from the Lions offense banging on all cylinders like a fine-tuned automobile through the first eight games of the 2019 season, and then injuries threw a wrench into the mix, derailing the remainder of the season.

Stafford had been managing Bevell’s offense admirably, proving the marriage of offensive coordinator and quarterback has plenty of potential to be prosperous together.  Stafford had been on pace to throw for upwards of 5,000 yards and 38 touchdowns before reinjuring his back.  That success and the emergence of receiver Kenny Golladay left us with a lot to look forward to in 2020.

Unfortunately, the year 2020 has not been kind to the Detroit Lions.  As mentioned, the teams’ defense is atrocious, and the teams’ offense hasn’t performed much better, leaving the future of both general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia to question.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Stafford has earned an overall grade of 68.4, which ranks 28th in the NFL.  To compare, last season Stafford earned a mark of 82.6 and ranked as the ninth-best quarterback at the time of his injury. It is extremely disappointing considering most of us have been very impressed/surprised by how well the Detroit Lions offensive line has performed in 2020.

When you look at Stafford’s passing chart, one thing that stands out is his success when throwing in all three levels down the middle of the field.  Stafford has produced a solid 80.6 rating behind 1,392 yards and six touchdowns along with four interceptions when completing passes over the middle.

Stafford is benefitting from the emergence of second-year tight end T.J. Hockenson, who leads the team with 34 receptions, and slot specialist Danny Amendola, leading the team with 401 receiving yards.  Both pass-catchers predominantly work in the middle of the field.

When throwing outside the numbers to the left side, the side Golladay usually works, Stafford has earned an overall mark of 64.7, throwing for 436 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception.  When throwing outside the numbers to the right side of the field, usually anchored by Marvin Jones, Stafford has produced an atrocious 45.7 overall rating. Stafford has thrown for 299 yards in this direction for three touchdowns and two interceptions.

A lot of this is due to Jones’ inability to separate downfield. Jones has never been great in this category, but he’s known to make spectacular contested grabs; they are few and far between in 2020, and it shows.

It seems to me that Stafford is struggling to elevate the players around him in 2020; some may point to Bevell’s predictable playcalling or losing Golladay to injury.

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Perhaps it’s a combination of both, but Stafford needs to look into the mirror and find a way to perform at the level we’ve seen in the past because, without him, this Lions team doesn’t have a chance.