Nov 19, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass in the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
It’s all in the headline.
This really doesn’t have to be the case, but that’s the way this team has been built. If Stafford is not playing well, then the Detroit Lions will struggle to win ball games. And that is exactly what is happening as they fell to 4-6 with the last-minute loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
Stafford does not deserve all of the blame, though. Drops, predictable play-calling and bad routes by receivers contributed to a lack of execution on offense yet again. There were probably five or six drops by Lions receivers/tight ends in the first half alone. By the time the second half rolled around, Stafford had receivers quitting on routes and pouting on the sidelines. Not a recipe for success on offense against one of the best teams in the league.
That being said, Stafford is struggling and it is painfully apparent.
While drops were a factor, Stafford’s placement on a few of his passes were not great. The interception by M.D. Jennings that was returned for a score went off of Scheffler’s hands, but if you watch the replay, the ball is high and behind him. Did it hit both of Scheffler’s gloves? Yes. But Stafford had his feet set on the throw and was able to step up in the pocket. That’s a pass the fourth-year quarterback has got to make.
On another occasion, Stafford had Calvin Johnson on a fade route in which he had gotten beyond the defense. Even an average throw in the vicinity is probably a touchdown with Johnson on the receiving end. Stafford was being rushed which caused the over throw, but most quarterbacks don’t always have a perfect pocket to throw from.
It’s true that every great quarterback misses on some throws. But this is a reoccurring issue with Stafford. How many times have we seen a tight end slip down the middle of the seam past the linebackers, but Stafford over throws his target? Or him throwing the ball high to Calvin Johnson and he has to leap to get it and is laid out by a defender.
Whether it is mechanics or just inaccuracy, Stafford needs to be better in order for the Lions to be successful on offense.
Some teams can get away with average quarterback play. The 49ers have been successful the past two years with Alex Smith at the helm, but they have a dominant defense as we saw in the rout of the Bears last night.
The Lions aren’t built that way. Hence the team loading up on offensive talent to surround their franchise quarterback. This team will succeed or fail depending upon the arm of Matthew Stafford. The Lions aren’t good enough in the other phases of the game to win if Stafford is not on point.
Stafford is still only in his second full season as a starter. He is only 24. There is still plenty of time for him to become the quarterback most fans think he is capable of being.
Right now, though, he needs to be better for the Lions to salvage what was supposed to be a promising year.