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Detroit Lions 2013 Review and Offseason Plan: Quarterbacks


Dec 29, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) smiles before the game with the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Today we take a look at how the Detroit Lions quarterbacks (it was only Matthew Stafford this season) performed during the 2013 season with a little help from the fine folks at Pro Football Focus.

The radar chart below shows the Pro Football Focus grades for Matthew Stafford and compares him to the best, worst and league average ratings. PFF grades each player on each play to produce a massively useful tool for evaluating the totality of a player’s season compared to others at his position.

2013 Season Review

The radar chart above clearly shows Stafford grading out ahead of the league average according to Pro Football focus. Peyton Manning’s season blew away the field but Stafford finished ninth overall in PFF’s rankings – right in between Tom Brady and Jay Cutler. Looking at just his PFF passing rating, Stafford’s +17.2 was the fourth-best.

While Stafford comes out looking just fine on the whole, the game-by-game ratings tell the true tale. There were five games in which Stafford received a solidly positive (better than +1.0) rating for passing and the Lions won all five. In the three games Stafford received a solidly negative (worse than -1.0) rating in the passing category, the Lions were 0-3. Of no surprise to those who followed the Lions closely, all three of those games came late in the season – losses to the Eagles, Giants and Vikings. That leaves a 2-6 record in the games in which Stafford was generally neutral (between -1.0 and +1.0).

When Stafford was good, the Lions were good. When he was average or worse, the Lions were in trouble. Some of it was Stafford’s fault, some of it may not have been but simply put, Stafford wasn’t good enough in 2013 as consistently as he needs to be.

Offseason Plan

The Lions have already taken a big step in addressing the quarterback position from the coaching angle. Scott Linehan and inconspicuous quarterbacks coach Todd Downing were replaced with the equivalent of three quarterbacks coaches in head coach Jim Caldwell, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and the man who will hold the actual title of QB coach, Jim Bob Cooter. The Lions have a heavy investment in Stafford and they will go as he goes, just as they did in 2013.

The Lions have some work to do beyond Stafford. Shaun Hill has been a nice insurance policy behind Stafford but he is set to become a free agent and the Lions may opt for a cheaper route as the work around the salary cap. The plan starts with the new staff’s evaluation of Kellen Moore. If they believe he is capable of serving as the number two quarterback, the decision to let Hill walk is more palatable. If he isn’t, the Lions are best served by re-signing Hill, releasing Moore and moving forward with just two quarterbacks on the roster as so many other teams have done recently.