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Thursday, November 11, 2010
Air and Space: Stafford's short season

By Kevin Seifert

Matthew Stafford
Though it's a small sample size, Matthew Stafford has produced encouraging statistics this season.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford might miss the rest of the season because of a shoulder injury. He could return in a few weeks. No one seems to know for certain yet.

With relative certainty, however, I think it's safe to assume we're not going to see what we most wanted from Stafford this season: A long stretch of uninterrupted starts. More than anything, continuity seemed critical to get a better handle on what he can do and how much he has developed.

Absent that, what can we make of the small sample size he has thus far provided? After 96 attempted passes over three starts, here some thoughts and statistical observations:*
(*As usual, credit for these numbers goes to ESPN Stats & Information.)

It's important to reiterate that Stafford's statistics are a relatively small sample size when compared to other quarterbacks. But that shouldn't diminish what seems to be the beginnings of the second-year leap the Lions were hoping for. Over time, I'm sure the Lions will want Stafford to be more aggressive, both downfield and to the sidelines. But after he threw 20 interceptions in 10 starts as a rookie, I don't think anyone is complaining about a few extra check-downs in Year 2.

Of course, none of these numbers will be relevant if Stafford doesn't move past his injury issues. I have no idea how a quarterback can avoid getting hurt, but Stafford is going to have to find a way or the rest won't matter.