2017 Grade: .433
2017 3rd Down: .411
Week 1 vs. Arizona: So far, so good for the Lions and the highest paid quarterback in the NFL. Stafford was brilliant. He distributed the football all over the lot, he extended plays by finding different windows and platforms to set and throw, and his most impressive play of the day was a 17-yard scamper on 3rd and 16. This guy is a top-notch quarterback, and his arm-talent and accuracy were on display, week one.
Week 2 at New York Giants: Matt Stafford is turning into one of the deadliest scramblers in the league. It’s not because he’s ultra-athletic, but rather his ability to get his mechanics in order after fleeing the comfort of the pocket is exceptional – and teams know this. And it’s not just his ability to whip the ball anywhere from any platform, but the subtle pocket movement that makes him so dynamic. On the touchdown pass below, you see him shake the outside pressure, step up, reset, and square his shoulders to his target for a perfect pass. This dude is an all-star.
Week 3 vs. Atlanta: The best sign of an elite quarterback is the faith you feel when watching him in crunch time. Even stuck at 1st down and 30 on the final possession, Matt Stafford had the Lions believing. I have highlighted his escape-ability the last two weeks, but this week, it was his touch passing. His accuracy and ability to throw from a crowded pocket are such unique traits.
Week 4 at Minnesota: Minnesota’s blanket coverage and clever blitz packages forced Matt Stafford into some uncharacteristically erratic throws and poor decisions. Even in his worst game of the year, the best part about Stafford was his ability to threaten the defense regardless of down and distance. The GIF below is a 3rd and 17 play, no problem for the Lions’ quarterback. Minnesota got its hands on a lot of footballs and, if they catch even just one of them, this game probably has a different result.
Week 5 vs. Carolina: The league-wide pass protection epidemic struck Detroit on Sunday. Stafford was never comfortable, uncharacteristically ignored open targets, threw the football off the bodies of his targets, and made a couple of questionable decisions. It was a difficult day for the Lions offense. I feel comfortable chalking this bad day up as an anomaly for Stafford.
Week 6 vs. New Orleans: One of Matt Stafford’s greatest traits is his ability to throw with accuracy and velocity from any arm angle. In this game, his favorite sidearm motion, killed him and his team. 10 passes were deflected at the line of scrimmage and the that tenth pass was picked off in the end zone to thwart any comeback effort. Pass protection is hampering Stafford’s game and he isn’t doing a whole lot to overcome it. The GIF below is just a beautiful play that deserves to be seen.