The fact that Stafford has regressed or seemingly gone backward in his development like an NFL Benjamin Button, isn’t completely his fault. Yet it should be pointed out that he isn’t without blame either.
As a 10 year veteran, he has had games this season where he simply hasn’t played to his level of experience. Situations where he has seemingly not been able to identify where the blitz is coming from, misread coverages or stared down his receivers.
Quarterbacks are human and defensive coaches work feverishly each week to come up with ways to pressure and confuse them. Yet some of those mistakes Stafford made are fundamentals that are taught to young quarterbacks from the moment they enter the league.
Probably the questions that we should really consider are these; is Matthew Stafford an elite quarterback? Does he make his teammates better? If you answered ‘no’, then the Lions are in the same situation as about 25 other teams in the league.
There aren’t a lot of elite quarterbacks out there. Teams without an elite quarterback have to get by with a good offensive system, good play calling and having as much talent as possible to surround their signal-caller.
How much of that is happening in Detroit right now?
Despite the fact that one anonymous NFL executive predicted that the Lions will trade Matthew Stafford this offseason, there is still the fact that the Lions need to find an innovative offensive coordinator to run this unit, at least one more impact receiver, a tight end that can contribute to the passing game and backfield depth to help carry the load in case Kerryon Johnson should get injured again.
And quite frankly I’m a little doubtful even they could make it work.
The point is simple; there are several things that have to change in order for this offense to become a consistent scoring machine. While Matthew Stafford is the most visible problem in most fans minds, there is plenty of other work for Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia to do.
If they decide to trade Stafford and start a new era, then they better give whoever the new Motown quarterback is plenty of help.
As in the help that Stafford never consistently had here in Detroit.
For me, I look at it from one vantage point; most likely whoever is under center next year will not be comparable to Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Drew Brees. That means they will need all the help they can get.
So whether it’s Stafford or someone else, Matt Patricia needs to find an innovative offensive coordinator, some more weapons for this offense and, yes, still get a few premium players for a defense that has trended upwards, but also needs more help.
The truth is that there is so much to do this offseason and probably not enough time or resources to do it all. But one thing that would help the most would be an offensive coordinator and system that will get the most out of whatever weapons the Lions will field next year.
Could Matthew Stafford lead the Lions to new heights with that kind of help? Until it happens, we may never know.