By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Locally and nationally, the spotlight on 25-year-old Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is a harsh one. The Lions have lost four of their last five, and Stafford’s latest interception sealed the most recent defeat, an 18-16 Monday night heartbreaker to the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
Despite all the conversation about Stafford, with people evaluating everything from his turnover-filled second half play to his throwing mechanics to his development and ceiling as a quarterback, Stafford stays confident.
“I don’t want to hurt y’all’s feelings, but I don’t really listen to it or read it honestly or hear about it,” Stafford told reporters Friday. “It’s actually been pretty stress-free for me.
“Obviously, I want to play good,” Stafford added. “Not for you guys, but for my teammates and for the coaches in the locker room. They put a ton of hard work in. We are all doing everything we can to play as good as we possibly can. I’m not different.”
Stafford has tossed 17 interceptions this season, tied with Joe Flacco and Carson Palmer for third-most in the NFL. Stafford threw three picks Monday in a loss that dropped Detroit to 7-7 and out of first place in the NFC North.
Despite the interceptions and recent issues – Detroit’s 31 turnovers are second-most in the NFL – Stafford has no plans to be more conservative.
“I don’t think that’s the way to play the game,” Stafford said. “You can’t do that.
“If you don’t have confidence in yourself, whether you’re a receiver, running back, tight end, offensive lineman, I mean we ask those guys to block five-on-five all the time and hold up and let me throw it down the field,” Stafford added. “Everybody on our team has to have confidence to play this game. The quarterback position is no different. If you struggle with that, then you are probably in the wrong profession.”
While the players cannot avoid the media entirely because they must answer questions at least once a week, they make sure to stay away from actually reading or watching stories about them and their team.
“If you read that stuff, you’re going to go crazy because they’re either pumping you up or breaking you down,” Lions wide receiver Durham said. “It’s just what it is. It’s the nature of the beast. We know what we signed up for. You just kind of go about your business.
“You can’t focus on the negativity, or you’re going to drive yourself crazy,” Durham added. “It’s like any job. You just try to move on. It’s a new week. It’s a new opportunity to go out there and prove yourself.”
Outside the insulated world of the Lions, however, Stafford’s throwing mechanics have come back under fire. The criticisms inevitably cease when Stafford does well, but this recent stretch has revived such concerns. What seems to irritate people more than anything are Stafford’s sidearm passes.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz does not appear to have any problem with Stafford’s motion.
“There are a lot of quarterbacks that will drop down sidearm from time to time,” Schwartz said. “I think that’s part of his skill set. That’s some of the things that make him good. A lot of people look at the negatives with it. I think there are also positives that people can overlook sometimes there too.”