Detroit Lions: 10 observations from the Vikings loss

Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) /
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Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) /

4. The play of Matthew Stafford is not the Lions’ biggest problem…

No, ranking ahead of Stafford’s play on that list would still have to be the head coach, the general manager, the ownership, the run defense, the pass defense, the offensive line, mental toughness, the Curse of Bobby Layne, the pass rush, the run game, washed up ex-Patriots that can’t tackle, the Curse of JFK, forcing turnovers, missed field goals, and the situation at backup quarterback.

When Chase Daniel airmailed his second pass into the grateful arms of Minnesota safety Harrison Smith, we got a sobering reminder that as bad as the Lions are when Stafford plays poorly, they can still be so much worse when he can’t play at all.

Stafford’s awful week had an early end after taking a hard sack in the fourth quarter and entering concussion protocol. As poorly as he’s played the last two weeks, Stafford remains the one player who gives the team any hope of stringing together some wins in the second half of the season.

5. But the play of Matthew Stafford is a big problem.

I’ll start by noting that Stafford had a nightmarish week from a personal standpoint, one that would cause nearly anybody to struggle to perform at their jobs. Looking strictly at what happens on the field though, for the second week in a row Stafford’s second half mistakes took the Lions completely out of the game. This is after completing 16 in a row and looking sharp in the first half.

Before exiting with a suspected concussion, Stafford had telegraphed interceptions to Viking linebackers well inside Minnesota territory on two consecutive drives. Same thing last week, where a fumble and pick-six on back-to-back possessions blew the Indy game wide open.

That makes four turnovers in the second half of the last couple games, all of which Stafford can blame no one but himself. He’s moving poorly in the pocket and doesn’t seem to be seeing defenders standing directly in his passing lane for some of these picks.

Again, Bob Quinn’s offseason negligence when it comes to backup QB means that this team has no chance at all to win without a healthy and near-perfect Stafford. Matt Patricia’s defensive negligence (or is it just that he’s in over his head?) means that they don’t always have a chance even with a healthy Stafford. Stafford needs to be great, and he hasn’t been. That’s just one problem of many, but it’s a problem.