When QB Matthew Stafford was drafted back in 2009 from Georgia with the number 1 overall pick, the Lions were resting their expectations on his arm. Stafford was reasonable playing in the SEC conference, absolutely one of the toughest in the country. He put up decent numbers, throwing for 51 TDs, 7731 yards in his 3 years wearing Bulldog red. But again wrestled with his accuracy there, finishing his career at 57%.
But then came his rookie season, where he once more struggled with accuracy, only completing 53%, which is expected from a rookie coming into the big boys’ league. But then to make bad matters worse, he gets injured during the season, ending up with only 10 games under his belt. As I have stated numerous times before, the Lions were a staggeringly bad team in 2008(remember 0-16?), so playing Stafford off the top made sense to me, they weren’t close to “the next level”, so may as well give them the chance to earn his stripes, take his bumps and bruises, and hopefully, for Detroit Lions fans, make them a better organization.
He has been passable on the most optimistic side of things, currently with a career 54% completion ratio, 19 TDs 21 INTs and 2802 yards. And only 13 games played in that time frame, essentially he is still game wise in his 1st season.
Is it time to take the next obvious step in his game? Personally, I have never had a bunch of reliance in Stafford as an NFL QB. Coming out of the 2009 draft, I seriously felt the better QB pick was Josh Freeman, I wasn’t a fan of inexperienced Sanchez, so out of those 3 top ended guys, I felt Freeman had the best skills.
The Lions have, of course, made enormous improvements in many aspects to the team over the last several years. Over the last 10 years, the paltry Lions had a dismal 39-121 record, but countless are looking at the Lions as the team on the doorstep to the next level of competitiveness. Ndamukong Suh wrecked the NFL last year with 10 sacks as a rookie in 2010; LB DeAndre Levy is an up and comer that can help this team. Obviously WR Calvin Johnson is a wicked threat every time he steps on the field, no matter who throws the ball in his direction. WR Nate Burleson also is a very steady other outside option, when remaining healthy, double TE threats in Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler. But they have been awful with their RBs running the rock needing some big-time improvements between Jahvid Best and Maurice Morris only averaging a combined 3.4/carry on the ground.
The Detroit Lions have never been a team with a franchise QB at their helm, over the last 14 years they have had 1 QB throw for 4000+ yards with Jon Kitna, the last 30 TD passer was Scott Mitchell back in 1995, overall, only 4 times in the teams history have they had a QB throw for 20 TD in a season. Not a strong history in the “Field Marshal” position. The Lions have a lot resting on the shoulders of 22 year old Matthew Stafford.
Stafford has only thrown for 250 or more passing yards in a game twice. During the 2011 pre-season, he has looked fantastic in his games, leaving many to think he is geared up to lead the team to contention for a playoff berth, throwing 76% and 5 TD to 0 picks.
I think it’s coming, I don’t believe this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen very soon.
Written by Mike Anthony for VegasTopDogs.com