Has Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford Reached A Plateau?

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Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Has Matthew Stafford Reached A Plateau?

Soon to be former ESPN Radio host, Colin Cowherd recently brought to my attention some pretty fascinating information during one of his daily broadcasts. In it, Cowherd brings up an article written by Stu Woo of the Wall Street Journal.

Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

At the time, Woo had just released an article on New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith, which suggested the young signal caller may have already reached his full potential as a pro.

In Woo’s report, he compares a quarterbacks’ statistics, particularly statistics within the first two years of the quarterback’s career compared to the numbers thereafter. According Woo, historically, the sophomore season for the quarterback is often indicative of the rest of their career.

It turns out, there is some validity to this claim. Since 1995, 13 quarterbacks have started at least 12 games in their first three NFL seasons.

Cowherd states:

"“On average, these quarterbacks improve significantly from their rookie year to their second year. After that, the improvements small enough to suggest two years is all you need to determine whether a quarterback is going to make it in the NFL.”"

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These statistics are believed to closely resemble the player’s statistics throughout their careers.

Cowherd goes on to explain Smith regressed in year two, when he should have progressed, meaning the Jets have seen the best of Smith and he won’t pan out in the NFL. Whether Cowherd’s and Woo’s conclusion is correct, remains to be seen.

Let’s however take a look at how this relates to Matthew Stafford.

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As you’re probably already thinking or remember, both Stafford’s rookie and sophomore season were cut short by injury, ultimately making this data irrelevant. However, for the purpose of being diligent, it felt necessary to bring it up.

Just because we can, lets also take a look at Stafford’s third and fourth years as a pro. Also, the first two years he managed to play in all 16 games.

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Again, I realize the way this data is presented is not ideal. The reason I bring it up is to simply provoke your thoughts on the situation. In both cases we seen a drop off from year one to year two.

Where things get really interesting is when you compare numbers from 2013 to 2014. Remember, 2013 was the season that the term “regression” was first brought up. It was also the final year for Stafford prior to Caldwell getting in his ear last season.

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It’s easy to see — there was some definite progress made from one coach to another.

In the end, the argument remains debatable and ultimately a matter of opinion. With these thoughts out there it’s hard to write Matthew Stafford off just yet. Physically, the tools are there. It’s the mental aspect of his game where the questions begin to come up.

Luckily for the sake of Lions fans and for Matthew Stafford, he has the right coach in his corner in 2015.

What do you think? Has Matthew Stafford already shown us the best of what he has to offer? Or is there reason to expect more moving forward? Let us know in the comments section below!

Nate Williams is a writer and editor for FanSided and SideLionReport.com. For continued Detroit Lions news, rumors and analysis, be sure to give him a follow on twitter at @NateWilliamsFS.

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