Matthew Stafford’s mechanics are horrendous.
Whether it’s from fans or ‘experts,’ I’ve long defended the Lions’ like-it-or-not franchise signal caller, but Stafford’s not had as good a season as I’d hoped to see from him in his fifth NFL season.
I’d like to give you a quick thought experiment. Let’s say Matthew Stafford had been hit by a trolley in August, would the Lions have won the three games they did with Shaun Hill? I’m not delusional to think or suggest playing Hill, my point is, has Stafford been the reason the Lions have three wins in five games? If we were handing out MVP votes on the Lions, Stafford is no better than 4th behind Bush, Johnson, Suh and maybe even behind Bell. Maybe.
The much maligned, by me, Lions coaching staff did a sensational job getting the offense ready to the week of their surprising win in Washington. Linehan and his other offensive coaches had to be all but certain there’d be no Reggie Bush due to the knee injury he further aggravated the prior week in Arizona, and they set up a Joique Bell breakout type of game plan. It helped that at that point, Washington’s defense was still meandering through its shambled state.
Getting back to Stafford, my point is, it’s not often his coaches get him in the best position to succeed with strategic and inventive game plans. Any ingenuity or adjustments on the fly are usually a product of something jaw dropping that Bush is able to accomplish, or because of something superhuman that Calvin Johnson has yet again imposed on the opponent.
The Lions went into yesterday’s game without either of top two wide receivers. Johnson succumbed to a leg injury and Burleson missed him second game because of an unfortunate car accident that broke his arm.
I can only blame the coaching staff so much. They’re limited. At this point, I rarely expect the Lions offensive coaches to outscheme a more talented opponent.
Kris Durham and Ryan Broyles were the Lions starting receivers. With Green Bay knowing to hyper focus their attention on Bush, and then secondarily to Bell, I would’ve like to see Stafford have one of those games that we see at times from other quarterbacks around the league. It’s usually from the Brady, Brees, Manning and Rodgers of the league, you know the game I’m thinking of. The game where the QB play that day is so trascendent, we’re all going ‘WHO!?!?’ when we see highlights and a stat sheet of some formerly unheard of receiver. Just look at James Jones. Does he produce 23 scores in his last 36 games with a passer of Stafford’s talents? Not likely. He’s a product of Rodgers’ greatness.
I haven’t been hesitant this year to praise Stafford for aiding his still coalescing offensive line by making instantaneous reads and getting rid of the ball at a Peyton-like pace, and amid chaotic pressure from the Packers all day, Stafford had a turnover free game (including one early sack where a less experienced QB gets stripped). However, there were still too many errant throws by the franchise – in contract and draft position only – passer. I’m not demanding it, nor expecting it from Stafford, but on a day where a startlingly stout defensive effort was in play by the Lions, the quarterback needed to make a star out of a lesser talent. Maybe then, could the Lions finally have left the state of Wisconsin with a victory.
– Is Joseph Fauria so poorly picking up the offense, or is his blocking so atrocious that he can’t get on the field? He played just 9 of 67 offensive snaps Sunday. Unless it’s he’s just eagerly dressed as a zombie for Halloween, it’s getting more and more difficult to watch what’s left of Tony Scheffler try to compete.
– Deandre Levy with 14 tackles, 3 for a loss and a pass defensed at the line of scrimmage is having himself a fine year. He’s made more impactful plays in five games, than maybe the whole linebacking core did all of 2012.
– Sam Martin with another day of over 50 yards a kick, which led to just 14 yards on 4 returns by the dangerous Packer punt return game. Martin also didn’t allow a kickoff return.
– I’ve always believed this, but it needs to be repeated: Chris Houston, bless him for staying when he could’ve bolted in free agency, is the Lions top corner, but he’s not a top corner, got it?
When the Lions take their 30,000 foot view of this heading back to Detroit, without Johnson and Burleson, on the road in their own house of horrible history, the Packers coming off a bye and nearly desperate to stay in the NFC North race, the Lions kept this game pretty darn competitive. Rodgers was eventually going to find some holes in a defense that was tasked with too much because of little offensive cooperation. But by no means is this a loss that should doom the Lions into poor spirits. If there’s a next time in 2013 (’14 actually, since it’d be January), the Lions should be confident they can compete in Lambeau. The quarterback needs to elevate his game though – that’s likely the key to doing more than JUST getting to the playoffs.
Need More From Stafford.