Through two NFL games this year, Matthew Stafford has looked pretty good. He has commanded the offense with poise, scored points, and in the ultimate criteria for a quarterback, has won both games. Besides the wins, his statistics through two games are also pretty impressive – he is completing 65.3% of his passes, throwing for 599 yards and 7 touchdowns with two interceptions. His QBR (if you are starting to follow that number) is 79.6%, putting him fourth in the NFL among active quarterbacks.
But to me the most important statistic is 2-2, as in he has played two games, and has not yet been injured. Two games he has ran out of the tunnel, and didn’t have to be carried back into it. Two games now where he was able to spend more time with the coaches on the sidelines than with the trainers.
We all know his history – the knee and shoulder injuries that have kept from playing in 19 of his first 32 games. The Detroit Lions, both front office and the players, are confident that the injuries in the past were flukes – the intersection of bad luck and bad circumstance. The Detroit Lions state that they aren’t worried.
I just wish I could share in their confidence, because I have to admit, I every time Stafford is on the grass, my heart is in my throat. I mean, it is obvious to see the kid’s talent (and I can call him a kid now because I am turning 40 this week), but how can you not be nervous? The NFL, more than any other sport, has the ability to tear the heart out of your chest with an injury to a key player on your team – just ask the Kansas City Chiefs or the Indianapolis Colts. Every time he got chased around this weekend I was screaming for him to get rid of the ball. Every time he was laying the ground, I was standing up waiting for him to get up. At one point in the game he was flexing his wrist or his hand, and I was yelling at the TV because they weren’t keeping the camera on him to see if he was ok. And don’t even get me started on him trying to tackle somebody if he throws an interception.
I don’t know long this worrying will go on. I don’t know if I need to see him get leveled by some mammoth DE, and bounce back up, to make me feel better. I don’t know if I need to see him complete a season injury free before I will believe. And I don’t know if other people feel this way, or if I am the only one. I do know that the worrying is ever so slightly taking something away from the game for me – the joy of a touchdown or a 3rd conversion has been tempered until I can see that he is still standing.
I really hope those injuries were flukes. I hope he stays healthy and leads the Lions back into relevance. And I just hope I am around to see it – I mean, I just turned 40 – I don’t have a lot of time left!