Wednesday, September 25, 2013
QB Watch: Lions' Matthew Stafford
By Michael Rothstein
A weekly analysis of the Detroit Lions' quarterback play.
Rewind: Matthew Stafford, statistically, had his best yardage day and worst completion percentage day of the season in the 27-20 win over Washington. He threw for 385 yards at a clip of 9.2 yards an attempt but hit on only 59.5 percent of his passes. Still, that’s a pretty strong day for the Lions quarterback, especially as he rebounded from an early interception to lead Detroit to its first win ever in Washington, D.C.
Fast-forward: The Bears will be a challenge for Stafford and the Lions. Undefeated Chicago already has intercepted five passes this season and forced 11 overall turnovers. If Stafford can continue his strong decision-making, though, he could have a pretty decent day. The Bears are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 65.4 percent of their passes, so there could be holes open for the Detroit offense if Stafford can make the right reads.
Losing Burleson hurts: The broken forearm receiver Nate Burleson suffered in a single-car accident early Tuesday morning could change things for Stafford. Burleson is leading Detroit with 19 receptions, and provided a nice option for Stafford after Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. He also started to show some spark, going for more than 100 yards receiving against the Redskins. Now Stafford has to look to Ryan Broyles, Patrick Edwards and Kris Durham, along with perhaps an increased role for his tight ends. None has the long-term reliability Burleson showed, but they have some talent.
Pass protected: Stafford continues to see time to make decisions in the pocket. He is being sacked only 1.6 percent of the time he drops back to pass -- a testament to the strength of the Detroit offensive line. He also isn’t seeing as many blitzes, as teams are sending five or more rushers at Stafford on only 35.2 percent of his drop-backs. He is helping his line by making quick decisions, taking only an average of 2.81 seconds before he makes a pass.
Prediction: Adjusting to not having Burleson on the field, combined with the for-now uncertainty surrounding Bush’s availability, Stafford could struggle more this week than in the past. He’ll still throw a couple of touchdowns and top 250 yards, but he might also have a pair of interceptions.