Analyst: Lions Letting Matthew Stafford Down in 2019

Matthew Stafford

Getty Matthew Stafford shows frustration after a penalty.

The Detroit Lions have a quarterback playing at an elite level in Matthew Stafford, yet their team has struggled mightily this year off to a another pedestrian start.

While folks have become accustomed to blaming Stafford for the team’s issues through the years, in 2019, things might finally not be his fault. In fact, some are saying the Lions haven’t been supporting their quarterback enough this season.

According to Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report, that’s just the situation the Lions find themselves in. After having a pitiful defense, the team is finally getting a solid season out of Stafford, yet has little to show for it thanks to their awful numbers elsewhere.

Here’s a look at what Freeman wrote about why the Lions need to support Stafford better now:

“Stafford isn’t Marino or Brady, but he’s been solid enough that Detroit shouldn’t be 2-3-1 this season. He’s sixth in passing yards per game with 291.8. He has 13 passing touchdowns, which trails only Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Matt Ryan (each with 15) and Jacoby Brissett (14). And he has an excellent 101.7 passer rating, the best of his career.

It isn’t that Lions haven’t done anything right, but they are being outpaced in every way by their divisional rivals. The Packers practically rebuilt their entire defense in one offseason. The Vikings have one of the most talented offenses in football, and the drafting of players like running back Dalvin Cook has energized the franchise. The Bears made bold trades, like acquiring pass-rusher Khalil Mack.

And then there are the Lions, whose defense ranks 31st in yards allowed per game (428.8), whose starting running back, Kerryon Johnson, averaged 3.3 yards per carry before being placed on injured reserve, and who rest in familiar territory in the NFC North—last.

Yet Stafford is still there, play after play, game after game. He’s producing, balling out. Yes, he makes mistakes, but he does everything you want a QB to do in the NFL, and he does it all pretty well. His play has tried to mask the stench of a perennially putrid franchise that rarely can get out of its own way.”

This year, the Lions need to see if they can manage to get things on the right track mostly to support a quarterback who is putting up amazing numbers, yet struggling to see the big wins come to fruition, which has to be the most frustrating thing of all.


Stafford Playing Well

Doing his best to try and shift the narrative, Stafford has been on a tear so far this season, putting up more touchdowns than interceptions while also going over 1,000 yards already on the young season. He’s played consistent and looks the part of a guy who is ready to make the 30s the best years of his career. The Lions also have a better offense under Stafford now, as they are being led by Darrell Bevell, a guy who has worked with elite quarterbacks and elite offenses before.

This season, Stafford’s play has been a breath of fresh air for the team, and they’ve needed him playing well to have the respectable start they have had thus far. It seems the team’s new offense, which is putting up numbers and popular in the locker room, is suiting its quarterback well. Mistakes have been limited and the big plays have come more freely and frequently.

Stafford seems to be on the right track toward getting the Lions over the hump. Either way, he’s going to fight to be able to try to do so and will stick it out for the mission of winning as long as he can.


Only One Way Out

The Lions have to step it up on defense in order to meet Stafford halfway. The team has long struggled to supplement their quarterback, and this might be the most frustrating way. Behind defensive guru Matt Patricia, the Lions haven’t answered the bell this season, and they need to be able to do that in order to win.

The team knows defense is an issue, and it’s been quite possibly the biggest problem thus far this season. If they can get it ironed out, they will feel much better about supporting Stafford well into the future this season and might just turn around their record.

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