By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – By tossing three interceptions in the Monday Night Football showdown between the Detroit Lions and the Baltimore Ravens, quarterback Matthew Stafford opened himself up to some justified criticism.
Over this season, Stafford has thrown 17 picks, tied for third-most in the league. His passer rating is 85.8, good for 20th in the NFL. Stafford has completed 58 percent of his passes, which puts him at 30th in the nation.
As many people – particularly the Lions – point out, not all those interceptions can be attributed to Stafford.
“It doesn’t just fall on him,” running back Reggie Bush said. “He takes 11 guys on the football field to protect the football. Some of the things that you don’t see; it could be a receiver who ran the wrong route, or we didn’t pick up a blitz and he gets hit in the back and the ball gets tipped in the air or something like that. It’s not just all on Stafford. We know that as an offense, so that’s why we don’t put the blame on him. It’s on the offense.”
Head coach Jim Schwartz – who has also been under fire – said he never thought about taking Stafford out of Monday’s game, in which the Lions scored on the first drive and then could not find the end zone again until the fourth quarter.
“I haven’t considered making a change,” Schwartz said. “Matt’s our quarterback. He’s going to remain our quarterback, and he’s going to play well for us. Any time a quarterback struggles, you know, I think the first thing you look at is it’s all about the team, and we haven’t played well enough around him at other times. I mean, there were some times we dropped some passes, there were some times where we cut guys loose or got beat in protection. Other times he could make a little better throw and we just need to be better around him. We need to be better blocking, we need to be better catching, we need to be running the football. We do that, we support the quarterback.
“It’s not just about one person,” Schwartz added. “We’ll get him back.”
Even if Schwartz or other coaches or players are not pleased with Stafford’s performance, though, it seems the public is unlikely to hear such rumblings.
“We hold all our players to a high standard, but we also don’t publicly shame them,” Schwartz said. “We’ve never done that with any player. So, you know, I think he’s no different than any other player when it comes to that. I mean, that’s just the way it is. But he’s our quarterback and he’s going to play well for us and we’re one game down with two to play. There are a lot of things that can happen over these next two weeks and Matt’s a big part of our ability to be successful.”