QB Matthew Stafford - Detroit Lions
|6-2, 225||Born: 2-7-1988||College: Georgia||Drafted: Round 1, pick 1|
News you need to know
General News (Wed Feb 1): had a chance to play in the Pro Bowl Sunday, Jan. 29, but chose to rest his injured middle finger instead. He was the second alternate at quarterback on the NFC team.
Week 21: bye week
Recent Stats and Projections
Recent Game Summaries
2016 Week 18 vs SEA (18 / 32 / 205 / 0 / 0 pass, 3 / 15 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense went up against a very good defensive line on Saturday as the Seahawks were expected to pressure Stafford on a regular basis. The offensive line did a solid job but the Lions skill players failed at a big moment and dropped passes were a very big factor in the outcome. The offense came out and moved the ball but drops by receiver Golden Tate and tight end Eric Ebron stunted the first two drives and forced the Lions to punt. Stafford had a very good first half and did a good job of getting the ball out on time and putting it in good spots for his receivers. He only made two poor throws in the first half, missing Ebron in the middle of the field early and missing receiver Marvin Jones on an out route at end of the half. He made a few spectacular throws, but the throw he made to receiver Marvin Jones was as pretty a throw as you'll see in the NFL. Stafford delivered a perfectly placed bucket throw, leading Jones and dropping the ball right into his arms as Jones tapped both feet in bounds. He was efficient and accurate in the first half, but the Lions couldn't put anything together were never in the red zone in the first half. Stafford threw 17 passes in the first half but one was thrown away and one was tipped at the line of scrimmage, so only 15 passes ended up as being graded. He was accurate on 13-of-15 throws in the first half. The second half saw the Lions abandon the running game again as they only ran the ball five times (one coming from Stafford) and it made them on dimensional and much easier to defend. Stafford also forced the ball a little deeper down the field which hurts his overall accuracy, especially when he is under pressure. He was accurate to start the second half but missed on five of seven throws in the middle of the second half. On three of the incomplete throws, he just missed and was a touch off. These misses could have turned into big plays but the Lions just couldn't get the job done. The Lions trailed late in the game and Stafford was seeing more pressure in his face as he delivered the ball. Stafford hit Jones on slant routes into the middle of the field, one going for 19 yards and the other going for 23. Stafford was accurate on nine of the 15 throws that were graded in the second half. Overall, he was 22-of-30 in the game for an adjusted-accuracy rate of 73.3 percent.
2016 Week 17 vs GB (26 / 41 / 347 / 2 / 1 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense came into this game looking to feast on a vulnerable pass defense. Stafford started slowly as he missed on his first three throws with one being a big factor in the outcome. Stafford had receiver Golden Tate streaking down the right sideline but overthrew him by just a touch, but Tate couldn't find the ball early enough and a potential long score fell to the ground. Stafford continues to show his toughness by hanging in the pocket and taking hits to make plays. Something that has stood out over the past three games is that he's sailing passes at times and it stems from his finger injury. He is a touch off and that makes the difference in completing throws into tight windows or throwing them without accuracy. He made a few great throws in the game, one to T.J. Jones down the right sideline for 35 on a third down. This was a perfectly placed throw in between the corner and the safety. He also hit receiver Anquan Boldin in the red zone in the seam, placing the ball between three defenders. Stafford hit Tate on a three-yard score in the first half and led the Lions to a 14-10 halftime lead. The Packers baited Stafford into throwing the ball on a slant route to receiver Marvin Jones but Stafford didn't see linebacker Clay Matthews back out from the line of scrimmage and the ball hit Matthews in both hands. It was a perfectly designed play from the defense and Matthews could have easily scored on the play. Stafford threw 22 passes in the first half but one was thrown away so only 21 passes ended up as being graded. He was accurate on 17-of-21 throws in the first half. The second half saw the Lions abandon the running game which was dictated by the Packers taking a lead and the Lions inability to move the ball in the third quarter. The Lions had the ball twice in the third quarter and got nothing done and the Packers scored to start the second half and again to start the fourth quarter. The Lions now trailed 23-14 and were forced to try to catch up which forced Stafford to push the ball down the field. Stafford made some beautiful throws in the second half. He hit Jones on a 30-yard bucket throw up the right sideline. He spread the ball all over the field but the Packers defenders made some great plays to break up passes when when the ball was thrown accurately. There were a few throws that he would want back and he did make a poor decision forcing a throw into double coverage to Jones in the red zone. Stafford threw his only interception of the game late in the contest as he targeted Tate near the pylon down the left sideline. Safety Mycah Hyde was in coverage and was holding/interfering with Tate and he made a great play to intercept the pass in the end zone, effectively ending the game. Stafford did connect with receiver Anquan Boldin on a 35-yard Hail Mary as time was wearing down. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 12-of-17 on throws that were graded in the second half. Overall, he was 29-of-38 in the game for an adjusted-accuracy rate of 76.3 percent.
2016 Week 16 vs DAL (26 / 46 / 260 / 0 / 1 pass, 1 / 1 / 1 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense came out of the gate strong and were bolstered by a surprisingly strong rushing attack that kept the Cowboys defense off balance. However, it was a tale of two halves for Stafford and the passing offense as Stafford was able to pick apart the Cowboys for about 1-1/2 quarters. At that point the Lions abandoned the running game and things devolved from there. Stafford came out and was accurate early in the game as he was accurate on nine of his first 10 throws with the sole inaccurate pass being a relative throwaway. He hit mostly short throws that generated yards after the catch but was effective in getting the Lions into the end zone three times in the first half. Stafford's best throw in the first half came on a back shoulder to wide receiver Marvin Jones in the red zone that went out at the one-yard line. This pass went for 16 yards and helped to set up Stafford's one-yard plunge that tied the game at 14. Stafford used his mobility to climb the ladder and escape the pocket right and left and this allowed him to hit open receivers working back to him to create positive gains. Stafford threw 21 passes in the first half but two were thrown away so only 19 passes ended up as being graded. He was accurate on 15-on-19 throws in the first half. The second half saw the Lions abandon the running game which allowed the Cowboys pass rushers to pin their ears back and generate pressure on Stafford an a pretty consistent basis. Stafford was hit a lot in the second half and he became far too aggressive as the game wore on and as the Lions fell behind. He still distributed the ball to all parts of the field and did an admirable job playing through the physical pressure he was under. He went to tight end Eric Ebron a lot in the second half (7 targets) but was hurried consistently and he made very bad choices with the ball at times. While rolling left to avoid pressure, he threw a laser to receiver T.J. Jones but he was completely covered and Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr knocked the ball into the air and safety J.J. Wilcox came down with the interception. The Lions receivers didn't help Stafford as multiple balls were dropped that could/should have been caught. In summary, the Cowboys defense created pressure which put Stafford into the weakness of his game as he doesn't deal with pressure well at all. Also, the Cowboys scheme confused Stafford as they brought blitzers to the line of scrimmage which forced Stafford to read the alignment a specific way pre-snap. The Cowboys would back out players post-snap and bring blitzers from different spots which caused problems in the spacing/timing of the offense and it wreaked havoc on the passing attack. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 18-of-24 on throws that were graded in the second half. Overall, he was 33-of-43 in the game for an adjusted-accuracy rate of 76.7 percent.
2016 Week 15 vs NYG (24 / 39 / 273 / 0 / 1 pass, 2 / 13 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense came into this game with a very tough test on their hands. Stafford is playing with the tip of his middle finger on his throwing hand dislocated, and the game was played outside in poor weather and somewhat sloppy conditions. The weather didn't appear to faze Stafford early as he was accurate in the first half and put the Lions into good situations to score points, but the Giants defense made a few very timely plays to keep the Lions out of the end zone. Stafford saw Tate put a double-move on Giants cornerback Eli Apple and run into open space near to goal line, and he delivered an almost perfect strike but Apple recovered and barely got a finger on the ball to break up a sure touchdown. Later in the first half, Stafford hit Tate on a 67-yard pass when he ran past a Giants defender and Tate took the ball down to the Giants 11-yard line. The Lions fumbled the very next play and those missed opportunities ultimately cost the Lions in a very big way in this game. Stafford mostly targeted Tate and Ebron along with the running backs in the first half and was 11-of-11 on throws that were graded in the first half. The Lions threw the ball a lot more in the second half as the running game couldn't get any traction. Stafford spread the ball to all of his weapons and got receivers Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin involved. The Giants harassed Stafford throughout the second half with pressure and Stafford was forced out of the pocket fairly regularly and that led to a few inaccurate throws and balls that Stafford simply threw away. Early in the second half, Stafford hit Jones on a beautiful 21-yard pitch and catch where he led him perfectly allowing Jones to make a fantastic diving grab. The Giants put a blanket on anything going down the field until the Lions last drive as Stafford had to settle for short gains and they had to convert multiple third downs needing short yardage. Things opened up for the offense after the Giants went up 17-6 in the fourth quarter and Stafford led the Lions deep into Giants territory with strikes to receiver Golden Tate for 12 and 24 yards and one to Jones for 14 yards. That drive ended when Stafford forced a third down throw into the end zone where Giants defender Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie brought the ball down for the interception. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 18-of-23 on throws that were graded in the second half. Overall, he was 29-of-34 in the game for an adjusted-accuracy rate of 85.3 percent.
2016 Week 14 vs CHI (21 / 35 / 223 / 1 / 2 pass, 4 / 15 / 1 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense came out of New Orleans in Week 13 on a high note but the Bears defense plays a tough brand of football and matches up well against the Lions. Bears head coach John Fox worked with Jim Bob Cooter in Denver and that familiarity looks to have given the Bears an understanding of what the Lions are doing on offense, and they have definitely given Stafford fits this year including in this game. Stafford came out of the gate on fire, throwing accurately on his first nine graded throws. Stafford hit on throws of 11, 13 and 14 yards before dislocating the tip of his middle finger on his throwing hand on a ball he threw away because of pressure. He spread the ball all over the field to multiple weapons and did a nice job of taking what the Bears defense was giving him. Pressure was consistently in his face and he had to move a good deal throughout the game to avoid pressure. After hurting his finger, he had accuracy issues as the ball wasn't located as well as he normally can locate it, and it also didn't have the kind of spin it normally has. This injury could be a significant blow and will certainly be a factor over the next few weeks. The Bears did a good job in coverage but they were called on some pass interference penalties as Stafford threw the ball into areas where they had to interfere or give up big plays. Stafford moved the Lions down the field at the end of the first half and hit wide receiver Anquan Boldin on a very nice throw that led him to the pylon and into the end zone for a 16-yard score. Stafford threw 23 passes in the first half, but two were throwaways and not graded. From an accuracy standpoint, Stafford was 18-of-21 in the first half. The Lions relied more heavily on the running game in the second half and it was obvious that his accuracy was waning as the game went on. Stafford continued to spread the ball around but the second half was an ugly half of offensive football for the Lions. The Lions got the benefit of several interference penalties and they took advantage of them, but they couldn't completely finish off the Bears as Stafford threw two second half interceptions. The first came in the red zone on a throw in the end zone to receiver Golden Tate. Stafford just missed and the defender was barely able to tip the ball which bounced off of Tate and into the air for the turnover. Stafford dug an even deeper hole for the Lions on his next possession. Stafford made a very poor decision, forcing a bad throw into perfect coverage as he tried to hit Boldin on a short out route. Bears cornerback Cre'Von LeBlanc was right in Boldin's hip pocket and he picked off the pass and went untouched for 24 yards and a score to put the Bears up 17-13 at the mid-point of the fourth quarter. Stafford was unfazed, and took the next possession at his own 24-yards line and put the Lions in the end zone in just under four minutes to take a 20-17 lead. Stafford was accurate on three of his four throws on that last drive but the Lions also benefitted from a facemask penalty that added 15 yards to a run and a pass interference call on defensive back Bryce Callahan that game the Lions first-and-goal from the Bears seven-yard line. Stafford took a shotgun snap on second down and sensed pressure and climbed the pocket but no receiver was open and he took off with the ball. Lions tight end Eric Ebron was standing in the middle of the field at the goal line and he actually did a good job of being in the way to help create room for Stafford. Stafford showed a little wiggle at the goal line and went in for the decisive touchdown. He has shown a great ability to make big plays with his feet this year, and this was another huge play he's made with his feet in 2016. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 7-of-10 on throws that were graded in the second half. Overall, he was 25-of-30 in the game for an adjusted-accuracy rate of 83.3 percent.
2016 Week 13 vs NO (30 / 42 / 341 / 2 / 0 pass, 3 / 22 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense have seen good passing defenses for several weeks and this week they got a bit of an easier opponent as the Saints passing defense is not very good. Clearly, the Lions saw some things on tape and took some shots down the field and also took advantage of the double moves the receivers put on the Saints defensive backs in Week 13. The Lions have been utilizing a short passing attack as they don't want pressure getting to Stafford, but they attacked down the field a little more in this game. Stafford started the game as hot as a quarterback can get as he was accurate on 16 of his first 17 throws. He spread the ball around to all of his receivers to consistently move the ball into the red zone to get scoring chances for the Lions. If there is a knock to be made at all, it is that the Lions settled for field goals and not touchdowns in this game. Stafford did hit running back Theo Riddick on a one-yard jerk route for a score and the Lions put up 13 points in the first half. Stafford threw 23 passes in the first half, but two were throwaways (one from pressure and one because of great coverage by Kenny Vaccaro). From an accuracy standpoint, Stafford was 19-of-21 in the first half. Stafford continued to throw the ball accurately and did a good job of not putting it into dangerous areas as he threw the ball away when he needed to. He took shots down the field at opportune times and delivered the ball on time and gave his receivers a chance to make plays. He was quick to diagnose pressure and coverage and did a nice job of scrambling for positive yardage, even generating a first down on an 11-yard run when the Lions needed 10 for a first down. The biggest play of the game came in the fourth quarter as Stafford hit wide receiver Golden Tate for a 66-yards touchdown. Stafford saw Tate run behind the defender but pressure was arriving and he stayed in the pocket long enough to get the ball far enough down the field to allow Tate to run into space. This play showed his willingness to take a hit and his superior arm strength and his toughness to give up his body to make a play. Stafford continued to spread the ball around to multiple weapons and did a fantastic job in this game. The Saints really started to bring pressure as the game wore on and Stafford had to throw the ball away as pressure arrived. He threw 19 passes in the second half, but had one batted ball and one complete throwaway. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 12-of-17 on throws that were graded in the second half. Overall, he was 31-of-38 in the game for an adjusted-accuracy rate of 82 percent.
2016 Week 12 vs MIN (23 / 40 / 232 / 1 / 0 pass, 4 / 30 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense faced a stout passing defense in Week 12 at home against the Minnesota Vikings. The Lions are wisely asking for Stafford to get rid of the ball before pressure can cause problems with decision making or losses in yardage via sacks. To that end, the Lions have personnel that fit this concept as they have weapons that can make defenders miss and generate yards after the catch. Stafford is also vacating the pocket earlier than he has in the past and making plays with his feet for positive yardage. He has four runs that went for 30 yards in the game Thursday with several being critical plays for long first downs. Stafford had a scramble of 11 yards and another for 15 yards, both getting just enough yardage to move the chains. Stafford came out hot as he hit on his first eight passes, including going 6-of-6 on the Lions first possession that ended in a two-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Stafford had to move from the pocket and was able to hit targets from different arm angles in the first half, fitting the ball into very tight windows to keep the Lions offense moving. He was composed and threw the ball away instead of forcing it into danger and he did a nice job of taking care of the ball. The Lions ran some intermediate routes with tight end Eric Ebron clearing out space with receivers running behind that action to run into soft areas of the Vikings defense. Stafford hit receiver Golden Tate for a 41-yard gain on this type of play and made some fantastic anticipatory throws to keep the offense moving down the field. There were a few big plays that were left on the field as receiver Andre Roberts turned the wrong way on a throw down the left sideline and Stafford threw the ball to the boundary. If they were to have connected it would have been for a long completion and most likely a 50-yard touchdown. Stafford also threw a touch behind receiver Marvin Jones as he was crossing the goal line on a 3rd-and-4 from the Minnesota 11-yard line. Jones beat Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes initially, but Waynes recovered made a great play to break up the pass. Stafford threw 26 passes in the first half but there were two spikes to stop the clock, two passes that were thrown away and a Hail Mary to end the half. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 18-of-21 on throws that were graded in the first half but the offense accounted for only 10 points. Stafford and the Lions offense struggled in the second half. They only had five possessions and punted on the first three of them. Stafford was inaccurate for a short spell in the third quarter as pressure forced him from the pocket and he threw short to Boldin and then overthrew Jones on the left sideline. Stafford overthrew (really a throwaway) Roberts on the next drive deep down the field but then strung together seven accurate passes in a row in crunch time. This is everything the Lions and Stafford have been to this point in the 2016 season as they've come from behind in all seven wins they have this year. Stafford and the offense got the ball on their own two-yard line with 5:02 left in the fourth quarter trailing 13-10. The Lions moved the ball and got one first down but faced a 3rd-and 8 from their own 18-yard line. Stafford made a ridiculous throw, jumping as pressure arrived and leading Boldin perfectly for a 29-yard gain. He completed three of his last four throws but linebacker Eric Kendricks made an outstanding defensive play on a screen pass to running back Theo Riddick, dropping him for a one-yard loss out in space. The Lions settled for a 48-yard field goal that tied the game. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 10-of-14 on throws that were graded in the second half. Overall, he was 28-of-35 in the game for an adjusted-accuracy rate of 80 percent.
2016 Week 11 vs JAX (24 / 33 / 278 / 0 / 0 pass, 2 / 0 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense faced a very strong passing defense in Week 11 at home against Jacksonville. We've seen the Lions employ a scheme that asks for Stafford to get rid of the ball quickly before pressure can arrive and when the ball arrives, the Lions skill position players can make the first man miss to generate lots of yards after the catch. The Lions did this exact same thing against the Jaguars on Sunday, but the Jaguars defense proved to be very tough to beat and they severely limited the Lions ability to move the ball consistently. Stafford struggled in the first half and pressure caused him to leave the pocket or throw away the ball. He barely missed on a few throws as he led his man a touch too far, but overall he was accurate but the Jaguars just limited everything the Lions tried to do until the last drive if the first half when the Lions went into their two-minute offense. This allowed Stafford to hit running back Theo Riddick for chunks of yardage out of the backfield and opened up the intermediate area of the field for wide receivers Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. The drive ended in a field goal as Stafford was forced to run on third down in the red zone but was tackled short of the first-down marker. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 13-of-17 on throws that were graded in the first half as the offense accounted for only three points. The second half was much like the first half with the exception that the Lions hit two huge passing plays to help them on offense. Stafford hit receiver Andre Roberts for a 44-yard gain on a bullet of a pass into a tight window, but Tate fumbled in the next play to end the drive. Early in the fourth quarter, Stafford was flushed from the pocket and rolled to his left. The Jaguars coverage got mixed up and Ebron ran open behind his man and Stafford hit him for a 61-yard gain down run and catch down the left sideline down to the Jaguars eight-yard line. The most impressive drive of the game came from the Lions starting in the middle of the fourth quarter. With 8:19 left in the game, Stafford and the offense came onto the field starting the drive from their own 15-yard line. Stafford threw seven passes during that drive and all were accurate and complete, and the drive took 7:57 off of the clock and out another three points on the board. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 12-of-13 on throws that were graded in the second half. Interestingly, Stafford threw for 8.4 yards per attempt but if we take away the 61-yard pass to Ebron and the 44-yard pass to Roberts, that number drops to 5.6 yards per attempt which is a testament to what the Jaguars defense did to the Lions passing offense on Sunday.
2016 Week 9 vs MIN (23 / 36 / 219 / 2 / 1 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense faced another strong passing defense in Week 9 on the road in Minnesota. The Lions have deployed a smart scheme to prevent Stafford from seeing much pressure and they are asking him to get rid of the ball quickly to avoid feeling pressure and turning the ball over. This scheme calls for short throws and that is exactly what they did on Sunday as Stafford saw some pressure but was only sacked one time. Stafford did have an interception and that came on pressure as he was flushed to his right and he and fullback Michael Burton were not in sync, and Stafford threw the ball to linebacker Chad Greenway. Stafford gets the knock here as he threw the ball and he has to own that, but he was expecting Burton to be where Greenway was, and Burton broke inside as Stafford started his throw. Stafford and the Lions used the short passing game to control the clock late in the first half as they carried out a drive that lasted almost 10 minutes. Stafford threw a slew of screen passes and hit tight end Eric Ebron for chunks of yardage in the first half, and he finished the half with a one-yard score to wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Boldin used his big body and physicality to get separation and Stafford hit him for the score. From an accuracy perspective, Stafford was 16-of-17 in the first half. The Lions came out in the second half and on the first play Stafford hit receiver Golden Tate on a bubble screen but cornerback Terrance Newman made a great play and split blockers to drop Tate for a loss. Stafford then took a shot deep down the field to receiver Marvin Jones, challenging the defense vertically for the first time in the game. It was a perfect throw, but Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes held Jones' left arm as he reached for the ball and it fell to the ground incomplete. This started a string of six straight incompletions for Stafford. The Lions struggled in the second half and the Vikings took a 16-13 lead with 23 seconds left in the game. On first down, Stafford was flushed out of the pocket and hit Tate on the left sideline for eight yards with 17 seconds on the clock. Stafford then hit receiver Andre Roberts with one of the better throws you'll ever see for 27 yards. Stafford had to rip the throw in to Roberts and he needed to put it in the perfect spot to get him to the ground so the Lions could run to the line of scrimmage to spike the ball to set up a to set up a 58-yard field goal attempt to tie the game. Stafford looked sharp in the overtime as he converted three third-down throws to keep the drive going. He hit Ebron in stride for a 23-yard gain and then he hit Tate on an out route for 12 yards to get the Lions into Minnesota territory. Stafford ended the game fitting the ball to Tate between cornerback Xavier Rhodes and safety Harrison Smith on a third down play. Tate managed to keep his balance and shrug off Rhodes while staying in bounds and got into the end zone to win the game. Stafford threw 19 times in the second half but one was a throwaway and one was a spike. From an accuracy perspective, Stafford was accurate on 13 of the 17 throws that could be graded. Overall, he was 29-of-34 on the day.
2016 Week 8 vs HOU (27 / 41 / 240 / 1 / 0 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense faced a very stout passing defense in Week 8 on the road in Houston. The offense looked stagnant and out of sorts throughout the game and with the exception of one throw, the Lions did not challenge the Texans down the field at all Sunday. The Lions game plan was to get the ball out quickly because of the pressure the Texans can bring and to allow their playmakers to make defenders miss and generate yards after the catch. However, the Texans smothered the Lions short passing attack and stunted plays at or near the line of scrimmage before they could realistically get started. The Texans defensive backs did a phenomenal job of tackling and in coverage in this game and it led to the Lions really struggling to move the ball consistently. The Lions scored one field goal in the first two quarters and that came late in the first half. Stafford got the ball out quickly for the most part, but the Lions looked out of sorts and had multiple drops in the first half (3 or 4) that stunted the offense. When the Texans applied pressure, it forced Stafford out of the pocket and he couldn't hook up with his receivers and throws were coming up short. The biggest plays of the first half all came near the end and all went to tight end Eric Ebron. Stafford hit Ebron on a really nice throw up the numbers that went for 34 yards. He then went right back to Ebron twice in a row, completing both passes to set up the field goal. From an accuracy perspective, Stafford was 20-of-23 in the first half, but as accurate as he was, the Lions were only able to put three points on the board. It was more of the same to start the second half as there was what I would consider a drop by Marvin Jones to start the third quarter and a miscommunication between Stafford and Jones on the second throw of the half. Stafford continued to target his running backs out of the backfield to help move the ball as running back Theo Riddick caught back to back passes for 19 yards and then 10 yards. Trailing 17-3, the Lions moved the ball into the red zone and eventually tight end Eric Ebron drew a pass interference call in the end zone which gave the Lions the ball at the one-yard line. Stafford hit Riddick on a touchdown pass right away to close within seven points. The score came on a nicely designed play, and a play that most defenses will have a hard time covering with Riddick and Boldin working in combination to get Riddick running along the goal line to the pylon. If he's got a linebacker on him on this play it is unstoppable as long as the throw is a good one, which this one was. The Lions continued to work the short throwing game utilizing screens and short out routes, but they put themselves in bad down and distances, setting up another field goal from kicker Matt Prater to make it a one-score game late. Stafford was accurate on 14-of-18 throws in the second half and was 34-of-41 total on the day.
2016 Week 7 vs WAS (18 / 29 / 266 / 1 / 0 pass, 2 / 32 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense came into this game with a matchup problem on one side (Redskins cornerback Josh Norman and Lions receiver Marvin Jones) and a matchup advantage (Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland) on the other. It is worth noting that the Lions were missing two critical pieces of their passing game in running back Theo Riddick and tight end Eric Ebron. Stafford and the Lions had trouble in the first half and could not put the ball into the end zone, but they moved it well at times and were plagued by a few critical drops. Wide receiver Andre Caldwell had a bad drop and Tate dropped an easy ball that would have led to a first down. His drop led to a field goal attempt that ended up way wide. One of Stafford's two biggest plays of the first half came on a strange play. Stafford threw an inaccurate ball and it hit the back of Breeland and bounced straight in the air, and Tate caught it and took it for 16 yards. Stafford's biggest play of the half came on a tunnel screen to Tate, and it went for 27 yards, all coming after the catch. In the first half, Stafford was 9-of-12 of throws that were graded, with one ball being batted down at the line of scrimmage. Stafford used his legs early in the second half, avoiding pressure and gaining 18 yards and a first down. Early in the second half, he also took a shot deep down the field to receiver Marvin Jones who had a step on Norman, and Stafford placed the throw about as perfectly as a quarterback can with Jones extending to make the catch even while drawing an interference penalty on Norman. Norman was hurt on the 52-yard play, and missed the rest of the game and that opened up things for the Lions offense. Stafford immediately threw at Jones twice in the red zone, completing one for 11 yards down to the one-yard line and he targeted Jones on the next play as well. The two weren't on the same page as Jones ran a fade into the corner and Stafford threw a slant route. The miscommunication led to an incompletion and eventually a one-yard touchdown for running back Zach Zenner. The Lions took more shots down the field with Norman out, but continued to utilize the short passing game as well. Stafford hit Tate with a shovel pass that went for 22 yards and then hit Boldin for a nine-yard toss that moved the chains and set the Lions up in the red zone. Stafford clearly was hot as he hit Tate with a throw in the back corner of the end zone that may have been a score, but it was negated by a holding call. With the Lions backed up and on third-and-long, Stafford forced an inaccurate throw to Tate, and it was a bad decision as Tate wasn't open or is a great position to catch the pass. On the next drive, Stafford hit Jones for seven yards and a first down and on the next play he attacked the defense vertically as Tate beat his man at the line of scrimmage and streaked down the left sideline. Stafford dropped the pass perfectly and it was a fantastic throw, but safety Will Blackmon made an outstanding play breaking up the pass which would have been a huge play. With less than two minutes in the game and trailing by four points, Stafford and the Lions got possession of the ball at their own 25-yard line. Rolling to his left, Stafford threw from a sidearm angle to his right and hit Jones on a deep crossing route that went for 23 yards. This throw was unbelievable and set up the Lions on their last possession. On the next play, Stafford was pressured and took off for a 14-yard gain which helped push the Lions down the field. On the third play of the drive, Stafford threw an inaccurate ball but was helped out by a great catch from receiver Andre Caldwell. The play went for 20 yards and the Lions were now in the red zone at the Washington 18-yard line. On first down, Stafford hit Tate with a perfectly placed ball that might have been a touchdown, but Redskins cornerback Greg Toler made a perfect play with his body and prevented Tate from getting his feet in bounds in the end zone. On a third-down play and needing 10 yards, Stafford hit receiver Anquan Boldin with a bullet and an 18-yard score to put the Lions up 20-17. Boldin ran a stop-and-go route, finding the soft spot of the Redskins zone defense and Stafford fit the ball into a tiny window over the linebacker and in front of the cornerback. It was a perfect throw that showed the arm strength, accuracy and confidence that Stafford is playing with right now. Stafford was 12-of-16 from an accuracy perspective in the second half and 21-of-28 on the day overall.
2016 Week 6 vs LA (23 / 31 / 270 / 4 / 0 pass, 5 / 14 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense came into this game with a clear plan to do their best to get the ball out quickly because of the amount of pressure the Rams can bring from their front four. Pressure is a very big deal for Stafford as he deals with it very poorly and his success this year is because of a scheme tailored to his strengths as a player. Those strengths were on display in Week 6 as Stafford was about as accurate as possible, even if the throws he was making were not down the field and challenging the defense vertically. Stafford was particularly sharp getting the ball to his receivers without making them stop their feet which allowed them to generate lots of yardage after the catch. Stafford with receiver Golden Tate on a short tunnel-screen and he made a defender miss, taking it 34 yards into the red zone. Stafford hit receiver Marvin Jones on a back-shoulder throw for a seven-yard score. Stafford's throw displayed great accuracy and allowed only Jones to get the ball and not the defender. The Lions used the screen game to slow down the pass rush, but it was limited with running back Theo Riddick out to injury. Stafford worked the middle of the field and threw quick slants throughout the game, and also displayed great arm strength on a few throws to receiver Anquan Boldin between the linebacker and the safety. Stafford's second touchdown throw came on a bit of a broken play that saw pressure come up the middle of the offensive line. Stafford flushed to the right and threw a pass to the corner of the end zone to receiver Andre Caldwell for a two-yard score. This throw came off his back foot and was remarkably accurate, but dangerous as well. Stafford threw 16 passes in the first half but one was tipped at the line of scrimmage, one was a throwaway and one was dropped. Of the 14 throws to be graded, Stafford was accurate on 13 of them. The only inaccurate throw came on a miscommunication between Stafford and Jones in the end zone. Stafford was expecting Jones to run a slant but Jones ran a fade to the pylon. Stafford's hot play continued in the second half as he continued to exploit open areas in coverage over the middle of the field. Stafford utilized the hard-count and drew the Rams off-side, and on the free play he threw to a wide open Tate running down the left sideline. The play ended up going for 61 yards and set the Lions up first-and-goal at the Rams one-yard line. A few plays later he whistled a throw to Boldin for a four-yard score, and it was a great throw as Boldin was only open for a split-second between two defenders. Stafford's weapons dealt with a bad case of drops in the second half as Jones, Tate and newly acquired running back Justin Forsett all had drops within minutes of each other. Stafford hit Tate on a 23-yard throw on a slant route, and it was an easy pitch and catch that allowed Tate to waltz into the end zone. Stafford's only mistake of the half came on a very poor decision when he forced a throw all the way across the field rolling to his left and throwing back to the right. It could easily have been intercepted but it was an accurate throw, arriving late and getting broken up by a Rams defender. With the game tied at 28, Stafford worked the Lions deep into Rams territory hitting Boldin in the middle of the field and Tate on quick hitting plays. Stafford threw 15 passes in the second half and was accurate on all but one of them (the mental error to Jones), connecting on 14-of-15 throws. Overall, Stafford was 27-of-29 on the day from an accuracy perspective, throwing for four scores and zero interceptions.
2016 Week 5 vs PHI (19 / 25 / 180 / 3 / 0 pass, 6 / 16 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the passing offense came out of the starting gate on fire as they had three first-half possessions and out the ball in the end zone three times. With the running game helping to put the passing game in manageable situations, Stafford gashed the Eagles taking intermediate shots and utilizing the short passing game. Stafford also tucked the ball and ran with it when he was flushed from the pocket and his runs resulted in two first downs in the first half. Stafford hit running back Theo Riddick twice in the first half for scores and then hit receiver Marvin Jones in the back of the end zone for a third score. In the first half, Stafford threw 15 passes, but one was a throwaway. He had 14 throws to be graded and was accurate on 12 of them. The second half started rough as the Eagles applied immediate pressure to Stafford and he took a sack and then dropped the football scrambling away from pressure which led to Eagles points. Everything that happened on the second half came from very short throws as the Lions offensive line wasn't holding up at the point of attack or creating any push in the running game. Stafford only completed two throws that went for more than 10 yards, one going to receiver Marvin Jones for 10 yards and the last throw of the game going to Tate for 27 yards. On the last throw, Stafford was patient and let Tate clear the trash in the middle of the field on an intermediate crosser and threw off his back foot and hit him in stride, not forcing Tate to stop his feet. Tate caught it in stride and took the ball into the red zone. Stafford threw ten passes in the second half and threw one away due to pressure. He had nine throws that were graded and was accurate on all nine of them. Overall, Stafford was 21-of-23 on the day, but the inconsistency between the first half and second half are alarming.
2016 Week 4 vs CHI (23 / 36 / 213 / 0 / 2 pass, 2 / 17 / 0 rush)
The passing offense was incredibly inefficient in this contest as Stafford was only able to generate 213 yards passing on 36 attempts. While he was accurate, he just didn't challenge the deeper parts of the field as he only attempted two throws of 20+ yards, one close to being complete and another that was clearly overthrown. Stafford was forced to move off of his drop as pressure pushed him out of the pocket multiple times in this game. When he moved to his right he was still somewhat accurate but when he moved to his left he had a hard time being accurate with his throws. The passing attack looked out of sorts from the start and Stafford actually crossed the line of scrimmage by at least two yards before throwing a pass in the first quarter. The offense had zero flow and rhythm throughout the entire game, and the only way the offense moved the ball was utilizing short throws and screen passes. It was a tight game pretty much the entire way and the Lions out up only three points in the first half. Stafford drove the Lions down the field and into Bears territory late in the second quarter, but a miscommunication between Stafford and receiver Golden Tate caused an interception, taking away an opportunity to put points on the board in a very close contest. From an accuracy standpoint, Stafford was 15-of-19 on 20 throws in the first half, not counting the interception that wasn't his fault. The Lions got behind in the second half but stuck to their offensive script which called for runs that were mostly ineffective. Stafford remained accurate in the second half but the Bears defense contained the offense throughout the game, limiting them the entire day. Most of Stafford's throws were to the short and intermediate areas of the field and his biggest play was actually a screen pass that went to running back Zach Zenner for 22 yards. Stafford worked the middle of the field throughout the game, hitting slants to receiver Marvin Jones and crossing routes to receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Eric Ebron. It stands out that Stafford didn't challenge the boundary at all in this game. The Lions got the ball trailing 17-6 midway through the fourth quarter, and Stafford put together a nice drive to push the Lions down the field, but an errant throw/miscommunication led to an interception that ultimately ended the ball game. Stafford led Ebron too far or underthrew Boldin, and it wasn't a good throw or decision as there were three defenders covering two Lions. However, it's not too difficult to see a problem in the route with Ebron and Boldin ending up so close together. That sums up the offense on this day, as they only accumulated two field goals and a two-point conversion in the game.
2016 Week 3 vs GB (28 / 41 / 385 / 3 / 1 pass, 2 / 11 / 0 rush)
Stafford had a very good day on the road in a hostile environment at Lambeau Field, but he was helped by the game script that forced him to throw and score just to keep pace with the high flying Packers offense. The Packers took the opening kickoff and easily carved up the Lions defense to score a quick seven points. Stafford drove the Lions into Packers territory hitting his receivers in stride and taking what the defense was giving him in in the middle of the field. However, on third down and needing 16 yards for a first down, the Packers applied pressure and flushed Stafford and he threw the ball away, taking the points instead of forcing the ball into a bad spot. The Lions were down 14-3 the next time Stafford got the ball and the Lions went three-and-out. It was a bad possession as they had a batted ball and pressure on third down forced another punt. The next time the Lions got the ball the score was 21-3 and the rout was on. However, Stafford stayed calm and made a great back-shoulder throw down the right sideline for 37 yards to wide receiver Marvin Jones. The Lions were driving and Stafford hit tight end Eric Ebron up the seam, and Packers cornerback Damarious Randall made a game changing play by ripping the ball out of Ebron's hands as he was sandwiched between two defenders going to the ground. The Packers kicked a field goal and Stafford got the ball with the Lions down three touchdowns. The Lions moved the ball down the field as Stafford hit receiver Golden Tate a few times and Ebron down the seam to get the Lions into scoring territory. He forced a throw to Jones in the end zone as Jones was open by a half-step and Stafford underthrew the ball, and the dangerous throw was knocked to the ground by Packers defensive back Ladarius Gunter. On third down, the Packers got pressure up the middle and Stafford could get his plant leg set as defenders rolled into him as he was throwing, and he threw incomplete, setting up a field goal that was missed. Now trailing by four scores with less than a minute in the first half, Stafford hit Jones down the right sideline and Jones raced 73 yards for the score. From an accuracy perspective, Stafford was 14-of-18 in the first half. Stafford came out hot in the second half and continued to push the ball down the field. He hit Jones for 23 yards down the right sideline on a nifty design which got Jones isolated on a safety down the field. He continued to hit the Packers in the middle of the field and in the short throwing game. Stafford hit receiver Anquan Boldin for a two yard score to start the half. He continued to move the Lions and put points on the board, making it a game late. Stafford moved the Lions into the red zone on a 19-yard throw to Jones, but they got called for a false start on third down and Stafford was sacked on third down. The Lions settled for a field goal and cut the lead to 14. Stafford continued to push the ball down the field late in the game and hit Jones on a 35-yard touchdown to cut the lead to seven points and that's as close as the game would get. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 17-of-20 in the second half, and combined for a 31-of-38 total on the day, throwing for 385 yards and three scores.
2016 Week 2 vs TEN (22 / 40 / 260 / 1 / 1 pass, 2 / 31 / 0 rush)
Stafford had an up and down day, and those looking only at the box-score aren't going to understand how well he played in this game. He saw significantly more pressure in this game than he did in Week 1, and for the most part he was accurate, delivering the ball quickly into his receiver's hands and allowing them to generate yards after the catch. However, he was not in the same rhythm as he was versus Indianapolis, but neither was anyone else playing on offense for the Lions. The receivers had seven (maybe eight) drops and penalties brought back three touchdowns (two from Stafford). This was an incredibly ugly football game as penalties stunted the tempo of the offense. Stafford's touchdown came on a 24-yard throw to wide receiver Anquan Boldin. It was a dangerous throw, forced into triple coverage, but Boldin was working back to Stafford and Stafford ripped the throw across his body as he was rolling left and throwing to his right. The throw was on the money as the defenders never turned to find the ball and Boldin plucked the ball to score six. From an accuracy perspective, Stafford was 14-of-18 in the first half. He threw a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Eric Ebron, but Ebron was flagged for offensive interference. On the very next play he fit the ball into an incredibly tight window to Boldin for a touchdown, but again, it was called back on a holding call on the offensive line. On the Lions first drive in the second half, Stafford was injured as he was hit below the left knee as he was throwing the ball. He looked injured and limped a bit over the new few sets of plays. Stafford looked to hit receiver Golden Tate deep in the second half, but they look a little out of sync right now. Stafford was a touch off with his accuracy in the second half as well, but he was still accurate enough for the offense to have made enough plays to win this game. The Lions receivers dropped at least four passes in the second half, some of them at critical times in the game. In the end, Stafford was undone via pressure he saw stunting between guard Laken Tomlinson and center Travis Swanson, throwing off his back foot right to Titans cornerback Perrish Cox who read the play perfectly to come off of his primary assignment to step into the throwing lane and pick off the pass. From an accuracy perspective, Stafford was 16-of-22 in the second half and 30-39 (with one throwaway) on the day. Stafford did show off some athleticism via a couple of quarterback runs, one going for 24 yards, with the end of the run coming on just about the worst slide ever attempted. He finished with 31 yards on two carries.
2016 Week 1 vs IND (31 / 39 / 340 / 3 / 0 pass, 2 / 5 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford was very consistent in this contest as the game plan put him in a position to be successful. Stafford finished completing 31 passes on 39 attempts and threw for three touchdowns with no interceptions. The Lions had Stafford throwing the ball before pressure could arrive for the majority of the day, and he was 27-of-30 on passing attempts of under nine yards. The Lions have talked about tailoring an offensive scheme to Stafford's strengths and that was fully on display in this game. Expect the Lions to continue to make short throws which allows for their offensive playmakers to generate yards after the catch. Not only does this make Stafford and the offense more efficient, but it also makes it easier to protect the quarterback which has been an issue in the past. Part of Stafford's success on this day is on the coaching staff and the understanding of the staff to just get out of the way of the playmakers on offense. Stafford's first touchdown pass came on a very nice throw into a tight window to tight end Eric Ebron from six yards out. Stafford displayed accuracy and timing with this throw as he hit Ebron just as he came open dragging along the goal line. A split second later and this pass is broken up. Stafford hit running back Ameer Abdullah for his second touchdown pass of the day on a relatively easy pitch and catch. The play was a fantastic concept that allowed Abdullah to cut to the sideline and waltz into the end zone. On his third and final touchdown of the day, Stafford showed great patience in a critical time to allow the scree to set up. He took a shot to make a play, and he hit running back Theo Riddick for a 13-yard score. There were a few throws that Stafford would probably want back, specifically the long throw down the left sideline in the first half to receiver Marvin Jones. Jones did not have his man beat as Stafford threw the ball and it could easily have been an interception. Stafford was 4-of-5 on throws of 11-20 yards and 1-of-4 on throws longer than 20 yards.
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