Dec 22, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass during the second quarter against the New York Giants at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

An In-Depth Look at Matthew Stafford's 2013 Season

About a month ago, Pro Football Focus introduced a series called “Quarterbacks in Focus“.  They decided to dive deeper into each and every quarterback’s performance from last year listing off how well they did against pressure, blitz, specific defensive packages, you name it.

I will only be highlighting the content from PFF’s QBs in Focus article on Matthew Stafford, but if you’d like to get a better look and check out the statistics for yourself, I suggest you visit the link above.

Keep in mind that the grades given out in this article are PFF’s own grades, and they are completely subjective.

Thanks again to Steve Palazzolo and PFF for compiling this data.

Strengths

•  Graded at +10.1 on third down
•  Showed well on 2nd-and-long (+5.4), 3rd-and-10+ (+4.0), and 3rd-and-short (+4.2).
•  Third-highest grade on passes in the 1-to-10-yard range (+10.3).
•  Graded at +3.0 on passes in the 31-to-40-yard range.
•  Third-highest grade on passes between the numbers at +16.3.
•  Fifth-highest grade in a clean pocket at +23.9.
•  Ranked second in non-blitz situations at +19.3.
•  Consistent across all drop-back types: 4-6 yards (+5.5), 7-8 yards (+7.0), 9 yards or more (+5.7).
•  Graded best in 2.6-to-3.0-second range (+6.4) and 3.1-to-3.5-second range (+5.4).
•  Second-highest grade when throwing to outside WR (by alignment) at +21.0.
•  Third-highest grade when throwing to slot WR (by alignment) at +12.9.
•  Among the league’s best when throwing to tight ends (all alignments) at +7.3.
•  Showed well on outs (+6.4), ins (+6.8), hitches (+6.0), and post routes (+8.5).
Pro Football Focus seems to be higher on Stafford than most are. Most of these grades aren’t too surprising and tend to correlate with each other.

Stafford found most of his success throwing down the middle of the field, completing 64 percent of those passes with 8.9 yards per attempt.

With a clean pocket, Stafford was lights out and threw 26 of his 29 touchdown passes.

Stafford accounted for 26.3 percent of his total yards on 2nd and long with a 91.1 quarterback rating.

Weaknesses

•  Graded at -2.8 on passes thrown at least 20 yards in the air and -3.2 on passes thrown at least 40 yards.
•  Graded at -4.3 when pressured, including -6.3 against blitz pressure.
•  Graded at -3.7 when pressure came in two seconds or less and -2.0 on pressure that came in after 3.6 seconds.
•  Worst routes were quick outs (-0.2) and comebacks (-0.4).
It’s no surprise that Stafford didn’t fair too well against the blitz or when pressured. His wide receivers struggled to get separation all year, so Stafford didn’t really have any options but to dump it off for a screen or throw it Megatron’s way when pressured early.

Stafford’s deep ball accuracy has been an issue throughout his career, but he was especially bad last year only completing 29 percent of his passes that were 20-plus yards beyond the line of scrimmage, and 25 percent of his throws over 40 yards.

Tendencies

•  Fifth-highest percentage of drop-backs from the shotgun or pistol at 85.5%.
•  Faced pressure on only 28.9% of drop-backs, fourth-lowest in the league.
•  Blitzed only 25.1% of the time, fifth-lowest percentage in the league and faced third-down blitzes only 27.7% of the time, third-lowest in the league.
•  Highest percentage of throws between the numbers at 61.7%.
•  Above the league average with 30.1% of drop-backs ending in two seconds or less and third-highest percentage in the 2.1-to-2.5-second range at 31.6%. Only 9.3% of drop-backs lasted at least 3.6 seconds, fourth-lowest in the league.
•  23.7% of passes went to running backs, above the league average of 19.6%. 3.9% of passes went to running backs in the slot, third-highest percentage in the league.
•  Threw, by far, the highest percentage of slants at 13.9%, fourth-highest percentage of post routes at 9.2%, and the fifth-highest percentage of in routes at 8.1%.
•  Threw the second lowest percentage of out routes at 5.9% and the fifth-lowest percentage of hitches at 11.1%.

The first thing that jumped out at me was how high of a percentage Stafford threw slants compared to other quarterbacks. He threw slants on 13.9 percent of his throws, which was almost double the NFL average. The next closest was Josh McCown at 11.6 percent.

The percentage of passes thrown to running backs will only increase this year with Joe Lombardi bringing over the Saints’ playbook.

With the Lions’ offensive line being one of there strongest units last year, it comes as no surprise that Stafford didn’t see a whole lot of pressure and was able to have a clean pocket for the majority of his snaps.

For more on the Pro Football Focus “QBs in Focus” series, check out this link. Some content may require a subscription. If you don’t have one right now, I suggest you sign up for one. You won’t regret it.

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