By Ashley Scoby
It’s no secret Matthew Stafford hasn’t had a great couple of weeks. His team has started out the year 0-2, he got X-rays after taking a ton of hits on Sunday and has thrown three interceptions. Before those X-rays, he finished the Week 1 game against the Chargers in a sleeve on his arm after taking a blindside hit. And his left elbow was bleeding steadily throughout this week’s divisional loss to the Vikings.
To add literal insult to injury, Pro Football Focus now says that Stafford has the second-worst grades of any quarterback through the first two weeks. PFF grades each player in the NFL each week, based off their performances, then those grades are normalized based off individual game situations to be more comprehensive.
According to PFF, the problem with Stafford has been his performance under pressure. Heading into Week 3, he’s faced more pressure than any other quarterback in the league besides the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick, according to the article. And his passer rating drops nearly 60 points when he’s under pressure as opposed to when he’s throwing cleanly. Under that pressure, Stafford is completing only 32.3 percent of his passes, an anemic number for a quarterback that has a decent 59.7 percent completion rate for his entire career.
Last season, Stafford had a career-low 12 interceptions (discounting the one he threw in 2010, when he played only three games). But at this rate (three in two games), he’s sure to eclipse that number.
And unless the Lions’ offensive line improves drastically (and quickly, especially when the Broncos and Von Miller are on the slate for this week), Stafford’s numbers probably aren’t going to get much better. According to PFF’s analysis, only one Detroit offensive lineman has earned a positive grade (Manny Ramirez). And Stafford’s blindside protection at left tackle, Riley Reiff, has given up a sack, a hit and eight hurries this year alone.
A former number-one pick of the 2009 draft, Stafford was highly regarded coming out of Georgia, but has never fully lived up to expectations. He set records with his 5,038-yard season in 2011, but has failed to lead the Lions to their first playoff victory since 1991.