By Chris Morgan
The Detroit Lions are 1-1 so far. They beat the team they were expected to beat, the St. Louis Rams, and they lost to the team they were expected to lose to, the San Francisco 49ers. They are about to get Mikel Leshoure back from his suspension. Their injured starters in the secondary could be back as soon as next week. So, you would think there would be plenty of reason for optimism regarding the Lions, or at the very least opinions shouldn’t be changed all that much. However, there is one reason for some trepidation, if not genuine concern. That would be the play of quarterback Matthew Stafford thus far.
More to the point, the main concern is the fact that through two games Stafford has thrown four interceptions. Granted, the Lions do throw the ball a lot, but he has also only thrown two touchdowns, and the reason for most of the worry is that these were all pretty much bad interceptions. He’s really overthrown receivers, and seemed to not see defenders. Additionally, he has had other bad throws that didn’t result in interceptions. Obviously, Stafford was great last season, but that was his one healthy season, and it was only one year. It wasn’t a huge sample size, so it could have been a fluke. .
Of course, it goes without saying two games is even less of a sample size. Last year, Stafford threw the ball 663 times, and only had 16 interceptions to 41 touchdowns. He also, of course, became one of only a handful of signal callers to throw for over 5,000 yards in a season. It was a year for the ages, and you would think, now being older and even more experienced, he would be just as good. That certainly hasn’t been the case so far. In his first two seasons, where he only played in 13 games, he had 19 touchdowns to 21 interceptions. However, is that really any more relevant? Additionally, if you combine all of his games so far, he’s thrown 62 touchdowns and 41 picks. That isn’t bad, especially when you consider he started as a rookie who was drafted after his junior season.
The Rams game was strange, there is no doubt about that. However, only throwing one pick against the 49ers tough defense isn’t a big deal. His completion percentage through two games is 63.8, which would be a career high. The skills are still there. The sample size is too small. Is Stafford’s performance so far a little alarming? Sure, but there is a lot of season left for him to turn it around. The Lions will have to hope that is the case. Without Stafford playing at a high level, the chances of Detroit making the postseason are slim to none.
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Chris has been a diehard Detroit Lions fan through the good (Barry Sanders) and the bad (Matt Millen) and that love has led him to take jobs writing about sports, including as a fantasy sports “expert.” His work can be found on Examiner.com.