Since being drafted first overall in the 2009 draft, Matthew Stafford has yet to lead the Detroit Lions to postseason success. Is it time to go another direction?
For nearly 10 years now, the single constant under center for the Detroit Lions has been quarterback Matthew Stafford. As the top pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the talented passer out of Georgia seemed to guarantee the Lions would finally have postseason success in the near future.
Yet, it’s suddenly 2018. And Stafford has yet to win a single playoff game in the Motor City. In fact, after Sunday’s humiliating 34-22 loss to the Chicago Bears, the Lions are 3-6 and facing yet another disappointing season without a playoff berth. It seems unlikely they’ll be able to match their 9-7 record from last year under former head coach Jim Caldwell.
For Stafford, this season was initially about putting better pieces around him. For the past three years under general manager Bob Quinn, Detroit has focused on rebuilding their offensive line. Two first round selections and two high-priced free agents later and Stafford has a talented starting squad protecting him. Quinn and company also invested heavily in running back Kerryon Johnson and LeGarrette Blount this offseason to help take some of the pressure off their veteran passer.
Yet, Stafford can be his own worst enemy at times, as he has battled with bouts of inaccuracy and will often hold the ball too long in the pocket. The veteran passer has been sacked a whopping 16 times in his last two games. Is it any wonder Stafford’s a bit gun shy out there?
Although many would love to blame poor offensive line play or a lack of a real running game for Stafford’s ineffectiveness, the fact is he has had 10 years to figure out how to lift Detroit to playoff success. Now, on the wrong side of 30-years old, his window is slowly closing. And the hits keep on coming.
Still young and talented enough to likely earn a King’s bounty of high-draft picks, trading Stafford to a quarterback-needy team like the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason would seem to be fairly easy.
The biggest issue in trading away Stafford is who will replace him in Detroit? The 2019 NFL Draft isn’t currently considered to possess a strong quarterback class. Although that could change in the coming months.
Franchise quarterbacks worth their salt don’t hit free agency. And if they did, the Lions aren’t likely to be an attractive landing spot.
Yet, against the Bears on Sunday, Chicago showed Detroit a blueprint for finding success under center with a young quarterback. Second-year passer Mitchell Trubisky torched Motown’s secondary to the tune of 355 yards and three touchdowns. Do you think Quinn might have had a slight case of pocket-envy watching this matchup?
Unfortunately for fans who’d like to see someone other than Matthew Stafford under center in Detroit, it’s hard to imagine the Lions parting ways with their 30-year old passer anytime soon. There simply aren’t any other options currently available of equal or better value.
Instead, I think the Detroit Lions might settle for finding themselves a new offensive coordinator this offseason in an attempt to spark Stafford’s career and their ailing offense. They’ll also look to the draft to bolster their defense that needs a serious injection of talent, especially pass rushers.