Significant Stat Shows How Matthew Stafford Can Win With Lions

Matthew Stafford

Getty Matthew Stafford on the sidelines during a Lions game.

The Detroit Lions have a capable quarterback in Matthew Stafford if only they find a way to help him out defensively from time to time.

Over Stafford’s career in Detroit, much has been made of the quarterback’s checkered record in terms of wins and losses and especially playoff wins. But a deeper look at some stats proves that Stafford hasn’t gotten much help from his defense through the years in order to help engineer winning.

Jon Poole crunched some numbers and came to the realization that Stafford has a gaudy 41-14 record when his defense allows 20 points or less. The only trouble? That rarely happens.

This offseason, much was made of the team’s desire to stick with Stafford for the future. It’s obvious the reason why the team believes in the quarterback has everything to do with the notion that if they improve the defense, Stafford will be significantly impacted in a positive way and do more winning. They’ve hired a defensive coach to do this in Matt Patricia. The problem? It hasn’t worked just yet.

It’s obvious the Lions are committed to building up the defense in the hopes they might finally give Stafford a group that can help him win games. Fixing the defense and building it might be the best way to help Stafford over the top to give him a winning record in the future.

Damon Harrison Vouches for Matthew Stafford

Former Detroit Lions defensive tackle Damon Harrison got a look at a new ESPN list from NFL personnel showing a ranking of quarterbacks 1-10 in the league. Stafford placed in the No. 10 spot, and for Harrison, that wasn’t nearly good enough.

Harrison tweeted about the slight he perceived for a couple of NFC quarterbacks in Stafford and Tom Brady saying everyone was disrespecting the duo and it was “amazing.”

Stafford placing on the list at all is probably a miracle given how undervalued he has been for a long time with the Lions, but clearly, Harrison thinks he will be even better than the 10th best quarterback in the NFL next season. As for Brady, he’s joining a new league and a new team, but the track record should probably push him even higher on the list.

Harrison remains an NFL free agent, but it’s clear his time in Detroit has made him a believer as it relates to Stafford’s obvious talents. Providing he can get help defensively, this might only be more obvious in the years ahead.

Lions Defense Upgraded This Offseason

One side of the ball that needed the most change was the defense. After a horrible pair of seasons under Patricia, there’s been some big changes on that side of the ball. How will that impact the team when all is said and done? The returns will be very positive according to one contributor.

In a piece breaking down some winners and losers of free agency, Pro Football Focus and writer Ben Linsey took a closer look at what the Lions have done, and found them to be a winner. Here’s a look at what he wrote on that:

“The spotlight is on Darius Slay, particularly after he publicly acknowledged last night that he wants out of Detroit, and as of Thursday morning, a deal has been put in place to send Slay to the Eagles. That is not ideal for the Lions. Despite the down year from a grading standpoint in 2019 (56.4 PFF grade), Slay remains one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. During the five-year stretch from 2014 to 2018, he ranked eighth among qualifying cornerbacks in overall grade, and he routinely draws shadow assignments against the opposing team’s best wide receiver, making those results all-the-more impressive.

As all that trade speculation took place, the Lions went about improving their coverage to soften the blow of his inevitable loss. They signed former New England Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins, a player who has been outstanding in coverage and as a blitzer for New England over his career but struggled when traded to the Cleveland Browns. He’s an intriguing option for a Lions team that needed an injection of talent into their linebacking corps. The hope is that the transition to Matt Patricia’s defense is smoother than the one Collins made four seasons ago in Cleveland.

Detroit then addressed the secondary with two more moves, trading for Patriots safety Duron Harmon (shocker, I know) and signing former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant. Both players were drafted in 2013, and neither has recorded an overall grade of 65.0 or lower over the course of their NFL careers, rarely dipping below 70.0.

Harmon has been a rangy playmaker on the back end of the Patriots’ defense at free safety. He is one of just eight safeties with 10 or more regular-season interceptions over the past three seasons. Trufant is a 6-foot cornerback who came into the NFL with sub-4.4 speed, and he figures to fit well into a Lions defense that plays a lot of press-man coverage. He’s not quite the same player as Slay, but he has shown in Atlanta that he is fully capable of being the No. 1 guy on the outside. Both players, along with Collins, should improve the Lions coverage in 2020 despite the loss of their top player.”

Detroit made some draft picks to aid the spot with Jeff Okudah and Julian Okwara coming into the mix along with John Penisini. That group figures to play a role and could be better than many think to go along with their free agency signings. Regardless, a major turnaround is needed.

Lions 2019 Defense Finished Statistically Horrible

Detroit had nearly the worst defense in the league by most metrics in 2019. As a whole, the Lions allowed too much yardage, giving up 6,406 yards on the year. As was pointed out, to put up numbers like that, it means the team has been giving up over 400 yards of offense a game.

Additionally, Detroit’s pass defense bottomed out as a league-worst outfit in 2019. The team allowed nearly 300 yards a game through the air, which is a miserable total.

Certainly, injuries helped complicate matters for Detroit’s defense, but that’s not an acceptable excuse for such awful numbers. Expectations were high for the Lions in 2019 given how they finished the season, and the team has taken steps to reconstruct things in the meantime.

Getting a better season out of the defense would be huge for the team as it relates to getting Stafford on a consistent winning track.

READ NEXT: Ex-Lions Defender Lauds Matthew Stafford

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