- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- In his ranking of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks, ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski placed Matthew Stafford right in the middle, at No. 16 of the 32 NFL quarterbacks.
In said analysis, he said Stafford “needs more consistent mechanics to play at a higher level week in and week out” along with questioning his ability to read coverage as effectively under center and he does in shotgun.
On Tuesday, Stafford responded to those criticisms.
“It’s something, like I said earlier, that I work on every time I go out on the field,” Stafford said. “Practice field, game, I critique myself. I’m my own worst critic, except for some of those guys are pretty bad.
“No, I understand those guys. They have a job to do. They’ve got to talk and in the offseason there’s not a whole lot to talk about. I understand that. But don’t get me wrong, I take a close look at my game at all times and try to make sure I’m playing my best.”
Jaworski wasn’t entirely negative discussing Stafford, whom he compared to former Miami quarterback Dan Marino in his mindset of how and when he throws the ball. In some ways, he was actually fairly complementary. From the folks in the ESPN PR department, here is a transcript of Jaworski’s entire comments:
“Last year I took much criticism for ranking Matthew Stafford 14th on my big board. Well, after a very uneven 2012 season, Stafford has dropped this year. He comes in at No. 16. A supremely-talented thrower still searching for the consistency needed to become elite.
“No quarterback has thrown more passes the last two seasons than Stafford. He’s a shotgun passer. Eighty-three percent of his throws in 2011 and 2012 have come out of the shotgun. That’s the largest percentage by a wide margin. I’ve always loved Stafford’s willingness to pull the trigger. He’s aggressive, with an attacking mentality.
“It reminds me of when I played with Dan Marino. Marino said if you see the back of a defender’s jersey, you turn it loose. Stafford has that mindset. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when you’re throwing to Calvin Johnson; a lot of trust there, a lot of confidence that he will make contested catches. I felt the same way when I threw to six-foot-eight-inch Harold Carmichael.
“What stood out studying Stafford was he was not as efficient under center as he was in the shotgun. He seemed to struggle to read coverage as effectively. Too many forced throws. Overall, he just threw too many passes with poor balance and bad footwork, with a tendency to fall away from the throws.
“There is absolutely no question that Stafford is a very special arm talent. There are not many that throw it like he does. He has a chance to be a top 10 quarterback. The Lions may disagree, but he needs more consistent mechanics to play at a higher level week in and week out.”
Some of that Stafford understands. But he was also asked Tuesday whether he had spoken with Jaworski recently. He said he had not.
But if he did, what would he say?
“What’s up, Jaws,” Stafford said. “What did I ever do to you? Nah, I’m kidding. He’s a great guy. I actually do like listening to him. He was a really good player and knows what he’s talking about.”