The Detroit Lions have a big decision to make with quarterback Matthew Stafford in the weeks ahead, and what the team decides to do could be influenced by what their record is.
To start this week, Stafford was out on the field at practice, albeit not doing much of anything that would make it look as if he was slated to get back to action anytime soon. Matt Patricia explained as much when he spoke with the media before the team started practice for another week.
“He’s kind of on the same program. He’ll be out at practice, helping us on the field with a lot of that stuff,” Patricia said to the media. “He can do some things he can do from that standpoint. We’re still in the same ball park for that week by week as far as that goes.”
In other words, no change to the quarterback’s status, which is not something that should be seen as much of a surprise at all.
It was the answer to another question that was asked which probably raised a few more eyebrows. When Patricia was asked what it would take to sit Stafford, he admitted the team’s record and where they were at in the season played a significant role.
“I think for us it’s probably maybe a different conversation as you get closer to the end of the season,” he said. “Right now, where we’re at, we’re just focused on this week and worried about everything that effects us for this week.”
The Lions play the Washington Redskins this week, the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving and then face teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos down the stretch, which could put them in a better position to finish with a better record. They do play the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings as well.
Losses in more of those games might only push the team’s hand when it comes to Stafford’s status, however, considering how far out of the playoff race the Lions currently are in the NFC. So if the team cannot stay in the race, that might lead them to make a tough decision on Stafford.
NFL Doctor on Matthew Stafford’s Injury
Stafford is continuing to recover from a back injury which is costing him time, but according to former NFL doctor David J. Chao, a return could be in order very soon in the next couple of weeks.
Chao took to Twitter to explain that Stafford’s season is not done. Far from it, in fact. He believes Stafford could start in another few weeks, possibly even by Thanksgiving Day or sooner.
Detroit plays the Washington Redskins next week, then the Chicago Bears the Thursday after on Thanksgiving. If Stafford is cleared for Sunday, it’s possible he could play Thursday as well. Either that, or the Lions could prefer to squeeze out one more week before starting him for Thanksgiving.
At the very least, while Stafford might have a more serious injury, it will be interesting to see exactly when he decides to return to practice and suit up on the field again.
Matt Patricia has had Stafford on the field this week even though he wasn’t dressed, so it’s possible he might be getting on the right track to perhaps return soon.
Matthew Stafford’s Initial Timetable
After Stafford was revealed to be sidelined with the ailment, ESPN’s Adam Schefter explained that while the injury could be shorter term in nature, the likelihood is that it would be a week by week thing the Lions would have to watch. Here’s a look at what he wrote:
“Stafford is now considered week-to-week with an injury that one source said could sideline him for “this week or 3 weeks.” Stafford had started 136 consecutive regular-season games entering Sunday, the sixth-longest streak for a quarterback in NFL history.”
Before the injury, Stafford was rolling along and having an MVP caliber season. Safe to say that all of this puts a major damper on that, no matter how much time Stafford is to miss. Stafford is a warrior however, and has never been shy about trying to play in the past through the pain.
Previously, Chao had said after looking at video of the purported injury, what Stafford is facing is a short term painful injury. Still, it’s not something which is long term, nor has any immediate impacts on the spinal cord. That’s good news not simply for Stafford the player, but Stafford the person.
Obviously, the major hurdle for him moving forward will be finding a way to get cleared by the medical staff for any type of return in the month of November with this news.
Matthew Stafford’s Injury
Listed on the report with a hip and back ailment, Stafford picked up the back injury while playing the Oakland Raiders. The hip trouble had been lingering since the Kansas City game, but Stafford had found a way to play through the pain of that, and was actually looking better on the injury report in the weeks since. The back injury limited him in practice most of the week leading up to the Chicago game, casting doubt on whether he’d actually play. Reports in the hours before hinted Stafford could be in trouble, and the decision was quickly made to sit him down on Sunday morning ahead of the game against the Bears.
Late last season, Stafford dealt with broken bones in his back as well and played through the pain, and the back injury in consecutive seasons has become a troubling trend for the quarterback. With the Lions depending on Stafford in not just the present but the future, they will have to be careful about how they proceed in this case.
If Stafford doesn’t end up coming back, it might have everything to do with the fact that the Lions season has completely fallen apart in 2019.
READ NEXT: Herman Moore Explains What Lions Should do With Matthew Stafford