Is Matthew Stafford the reason the Detroit Lions had such a huge drop last season after leading them to the NFL playoffs in 2011? Part of the problem, for sure, especially when you take a look at his horrible record as a starter against teams with a winning record, but it goes far beyond his shortcomings as a quarterback.
Stafford has started 46 times for the Lions since 2009, including all 32 games over the last couple of seasons, going 14-18 in the last two, while leading the league in passing attempts both years, and in completions in 2012.
The Lions seemed to have made a breakthrough in 2011, making it into the playoffs for the first time since the Barry Sanders days after finishing with a 10-6 record in the extremely difficult NFC North. But maybe an easy schedule was what made it possible, as a tougher one in 2012 resulted in a disastrous 4-12 season.
What’s Stafford’s part in all of this? He’s 1-23 against teams with winning records, with a drop in his numbers, that might be a big issue when you try to breakdown why they keep losing to good teams.
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But as Jon Vander Woude from the watercoolersportsnetwork points out, Stafford’s drop isn’t abnormal, as it’s expected to see your numbers taking a hit when facing better teams and especially defenses. Just like passer ratings for QBs usually drop by three to five points in the playoffs, Stafford’s dip against stronger opposition (4.2 points from his career average to winning teams) is in the normal boundaries.
Taking a look at his entire career so far, all 46-games of it, shows that Stafford isn’t exactly a bad quarterback when it comes to big games against strong teams.
In terms of having a bad day, falling below a 70 passer rating, his numbers are very much alike against both types of opposition. The main difference is his great games. Against the strong teams he usually ends up delivering an OK, or solid performance, instead of a very good or great one that he usually delivers against weaker opposition.
From WCSN: Over 75 percent of his games against winning teams feature a passer rating that indicates he played well enough to give his team a chance to win.
Stafford isn’t the main issue – Detroit’s defense, giving up 28.8 points per game against winning teams is probably a bigger culprit. Not having a running game, or too many options for him to throw to, is just as big of a problem. Stafford can improve in games against the likes of the Packers and the Bears, but the players around him and his coaching staff probably need to look more at themselves instead of at the man who naturally gets most of the blame.