Detroit Lions Preseason Questions: Where Do They Stand Now?

7 of 7

Who is Matthew Stafford?

Oct 20, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) calls out a play during the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The 2011 NFL season saw three quarterbacks eclipse the 5000 yard mark, with Matthew Stafford being one. In his first fully healthy season (remember when Stafford’s proneness to injury used to be questioned?) he completed over 63% of his passes and found the endzone 41 times through the air.

In 2012, Stafford nearly reach 5000 yards passing again, but completed under 60% of his passes and threw for just 20 touchdowns. Questions about his accuracy were posed, and some even questioned his legitimacy as a franchise quarterback.

While some doubts certainly exist, Matthew Stafford seems to have matured into a legitimate threat as an NFL quarterback. Sure, having Calvin Johnson lined up outside doesn’t hurt. Yes, Reggie Bush’s presence has impacted the way teams defend the Detroit passing attack. Unfortunately for those who want this story to be about those facts, you can’t isolate Stafford’s performance. Here’s what does matter:

– Matthew Stafford is currently averaging a career-high 327.1 yards per game.
– He has 16 touchdown passes in 2013, just four fewer than he did a year ago.
– He’s been sacked just ten times and thrown just six interceptions.
– His completion percentage is over 62% on an offense that has a league-high 25 drops so far this season.
– He’s only 25 years old. That’s younger than Andy Dalton, Sam Bradford, and Colin Kaepernick.

While he still has a tendency to force throws into tight coverage or overthrow his receivers, Stafford has shown that he is a franchise quarterback. Perhaps it’s the optimist in me, but I believe the 2011 and 2013 Matthew Stafford is the real Matthew Stafford. He’ll only improve as he matures and continues to lead this Lions ball club.