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Projecting Matthew Stafford’s 2014 Statistics

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As a math junkie, it often surprises those that know me to find out that I do not do predictions often.  Still, as an exercise in probability it can be fun to take a look at certain trends and project what a player’s stats might look like if those trends were to continue.

As you can tell from the title, Matthew Stafford will be the topic today, as some of the other players will rely on his stats to estimate theirs.  The Quarterback is the leader of the offense and Stafford has a lot of pressure on him to succeed in 2014.

Rather than throw out some arbitrary numbers or just guess, I decided to take the mathematical route to estimate Stafford’s stats for the 2014 season.  There are a lot of factors that should push the Lions signal caller to prolific numbers this season, but what is the best way to project his stats?  General consensus is to look at his stats and throw out a similar set of numbers, assuming that he will play similarly to how he has in the past.

If Scot Linehan were still calling the shots, I’d call that fair as there likely isn’t a whole lot of coaching going on.  As it is, Stafford has former Peyton Manning favorite Jim Bob Cooter, Manning and Joe Flacco coach Jim Caldwell, and Drew Brees’ former QB coach Joe Lombardi.  I’m banking on a different path of development.

For the numbers, I’m operating under the assumption that 2014 is a learning year for Stafford.  Though he is still young, Stafford is not a rookie, and brings his own experiences to the coaching staff.  To recognize that, I took the past two seasons for Stafford and added them to the pot.  This may seem a bit harsh, as it omits his excellent 2011 campaign, but statistically Stafford still put up big numbers even when he struggled.  As long as his connection to Calvin Johnson stays strong, he’ll always have that Megatron factor to his game that should keep his numbers up.

To account for his new coaches, I wanted to stir in some trends based on their recent offenses.  Taking the first two seasons for Drew Brees with Joe Lombardi as his QB coach (2009-2010), Manning’s first two years under Caldwell (2003-2004), Flacco’s first two seasons under Caldwell (2012-2013) and…well, nothing for Jim Bob Cooter.  Though he has a good reputation, Cooter wasn’t the QB coach in Denver or Indianapolis and was instead an Offensive Assistant, so it’s not really fair to use numbers from his time with Manning.

With the six years we have from Manning, Brees, and Flacco, added in with Stafford’s two years, we have 8 years of data to draw from and I think that’s a fair amount.  Now we just throw a bit of math at it and:

Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Y/A Y/G
376 593 63.41% 4397 29 15 7.41 274.81

There are obviously some pros and cons there.  Lions fans would likely not be happy with under 30 TDs, but keeping a solid 2:1 TD:INT ratio  would help mitigate that.  “Only” 4,397 yards for Stafford would be a bit disappointing, but keeping his Y/A over 7.0 is a must.

Ultimately, his numbers would end up similar to 2013 from a volume standpoint, but would improve by a fair margin by efficiency.  His completion percentage ending up over 63% would be a coup.  While his TDs remain the same, with around 40 fewer passes his TD percentage would go up while his INT % would drop.

So what do you think?  Would those numbers, taking averages from Stafford and the QBs his coaches taught in their first two seasons with them, be an acceptable 2014 stat line?

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