Through two games, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is steadily earning his big $135 million contract extension.
This is the type of execution the Detroit Lions were expecting when giving Matthew Stafford a five-year, $135 million extension this offseason. The 29-year old quarterback started off hot, completing 12 of 17 passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns in the first half against the New York Giants. Things slowed down in the second half as the Lions ran the ball to milk the clock.
Add in last week’s stats and Stafford has 414 yards and six touchdowns through two games. He’s putting together solid performances to silence the doubters of his mega contract extension. Lest we forget, he was in the discussion for MVP last season until his finger injury late in the season.
We all know Stafford has a strong arm, but what we’re seeing recently is his ability to put more touch on his passes. A perfect example is his touchdown pass to tight end Eric Ebron, as explained by ESPN’s Michael Rothstein:
"That type of pass from Matthew Stafford is part of his growth,” wrote Rothstein. “Much more of a touch pass. Put it only where Eric Ebron could get it for a score. Great route by Ebron, too, on the pass. Smart play overall by Jim Bob Cooter.”"
The things that we remember about the Lions’ starting quarterback are still apparent, including his sidearm passing. During the game, Monday Night Football color commentator Jon Gruden praised the Stafford’s unorthodox release as aiding his ability to find creative ways to get receivers the ball. It wasn’t that long ago that he was criticized for the very same thing.
When he’s not throwing it, Stafford is making things happen with his legs. His pocket presence can’t be understated as he avoided pressure most of the night and left the pocket when he
needed to. He’s extending plays and picking up yards on his own when he needs to. Last night, he scrambled three times for 23 yards.
Last night was also a reminder of Stafford’s toughness. In the first half, the Giants were sending extra pass rushers fairly often and hitting the quarterback frequently. One hit caused a fumble, a play where Stafford was also poked in the eye. After taking a play off – the Lions defense made an interception – he was back on the field to lead a scoring drive capped by the Ebron touchdown.
The stats put up by Stafford last night might not look sexy compared to what we saw last week. But it was effective for building a lead in the first half. The second half started with penalties killing drives and ending with running backs draining the clock with a two-score lead thanks to an amazing punt return touchdown by rookie Jamal Agnew.
Detroit Lions’ fans might be used to throwing the ball in the second half trying to come back from a deficit. Letting Matthew Stafford rest his arm in the fourth quarter is something everyone should be happy with. If he can continue to build leads in the first half, I’m sure the Lions defense and all Lions fans will be grateful.