Once again, Matthew Stafford ranks towards the top of the NFL in several passing categories. He is third in passing yardage, tied for fifth in passing touchdowns, and first in attempts per game (though his pace is way down from last year). His completion percentage and passer rating are more mediocre, but you have to wonder how much higher they’d be if the Lions weren’t the league’s leader in dropped passes.
Stafford’s impact has been undeniably positive, but it’s frustrating how a guy with as much talent as Stafford has makes such simple mistakes. Stafford’s decision-making has been mostly very good, and while he’s still prone to a sidearm sling here and there, his mechanics have been hard to criticize. Stafford is doing a better job of stepping up into his throws rather than dropping and throwing off his back foot, and his TD-INT ratio of 16-6 reflects that.
Still, Stafford has these frustrating moments where he just overthrows people for no apparent reason. He can hit Kris Durham on a dime 50 yards away, but when he has somebody in the flat five yards away, he puts it over their head. That kind of frustrating inconsistency is what keeps Stafford from making the leap from very good to top-tier.
Stafford is pretty much on pace with where he’s expected to be. He has a golden arm, and he and Calvin Johnson are proving to again be the most dangerous combo in the NFL. It doesn’t seem like it, but he’s playing better than his stats indicate. Several of his interceptions this season are a result of tipped or dropped passes. Still, with as frequent as Stafford’s flashes of immense talent, he still needs to show more consistency. That, plus high expectations to start with, keep this grade down.
Undeniably, Stafford has been one of the Lions’ best players this season. While it’s a bit slow-going, he is definitely improving, and his performance in Dallas is proof . Now it’s time to sit back and see how high his ceiling goes.