Lions

Five reasons why it’s a make it or break it 2013 or Matthew Stafford

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matt-stafford-in-thought
The 2013 season is it for Stafford, he’s had time to learn the NFL, he has gotten paid, he’s had players put around him and now it’s his turn to make someone better. 2013 will be Stafford’s 5th season in the NFL and with the Lions he’s seen the peaks and valleys to say the least, making a throw with a separated shoulder in a game against the Cleveland Browns that made Detroit fans fall in love with him and a huge 2011 campaign that saw a return to the playoffs for a starved fan base.
In 2012 we were all so ready to say bye to this same old Lions only to have hearts broken, dreams crushed and the same old Lions mentality dusted off. And a return to that mentality fell on the shoulders on Mr. Stafford. His touchdowns were cut in half and the offense seemed to stall in the first half with a lot of empty yardage coming late. Now perhaps some of the criticism isn’t warranted but the bottom line is Stafford is the face of the franchise and the offense starts with him. He is the leader.
As the QB you are not allowed excuses, it more than any other position in the NFL is a production business. Wins equal production but sometimes that isn’t enough, you better look like you can lead a team in the playoffs.
Here are 5 reasons why it’s make it or break it for Matthew Stafford in 2013:
1. The Money: Plain and simple, big time money better equal results. This offseason Stafford signed a 3-year extension that will make him the QB in Detroit over the next 5 seasons. The Lions front office didn’t pay Stafford so he can be the next Scott Mitchell or end up in a group with Tony Romo or Phillip Rivers. It’s clear the Super Bowl isn’t the end goal this year, but the Lions better see a .500 or better record followed by some success in the playoffs.
2. Pieces: Since being drafted the Lions have continued to show support in getting Stafford whatever they can to help in his development. Pettigrew, Scheffler, Titus Young, Ryan Broyles, Nate Burleson, Best, LeShoure, Reggie Bush you see my point. In 5 years I’d challenge fans to find another QB with more invested in him. Now whether or not players have worked out is not the point, it’s time to make one of those pieces better, something guys like Brady (Welker), Manning (Garcon) or Brees (Colston) have all done.
3. Calvin Johnson: This is an advantage Stafford has over every other QB in the NFL. Opponents are double teaming him and setting up special team jamming situations in the red zone to stop him. And still he manages to get himself open and make plays.  But unless Stafford uses Calvin right and exploits teams pressing Johnson, the WR will join a group of good to great wide outs like Randy Moss or Terrell Owens that have never won the big game.
4. It’s Year #5: In 2011 Stafford’s QBR was at 65.5 QBR and a 97.2 rating. In 2012 it went to a  58.9 QBR and a 79.8 rating. This is the wrong trend for a QB coming into his prime. You want to see growth not regression. Even his yard per completion took a hit from 7.60 in 2011 to 6.83 in 2012. This is a trend that NEEDS to get better or the Lions will be looking for a new QB sooner rather than later.
CMP
ATT
YDS
CMP%
AVG
LNG
TD
INT
SACK
RAT
ATT
YDS
AVG
LNG
TD
SEPT
114
173
1,182
65.9
6.83
51
3
4
9
81.6
8
36
4.5
11
1
OCT
84
140
926
60.0
6.61
57
5
3
5
82.6
10
40
4.0
10
2
NOV
98
175
1,321
56.0
7.55
53
6
3
11
84.5
9
30
3.3
9
0
DEC
139
239
1,538
58.2
6.44
49
6
7
4
73.5
8
20
2.5
6
1
 QUARTER
CMP
ATT
YDS
CMP%
AVG
LNG
TD
INT
SACK
RAT
ATT
YDS
AVG
LNG
TD
Q #1
89
159
949
56.0
5.97
53
2
3
5
69.9
2
5
2.5
4
1
Q #2
109
172
1,243
63.4
7.23
51
5
9
9
72.9
10
41
4.1
10
0
Q #3
87
130
950
66.9
7.31
50
4
2
2
92.2
8
28
3.5
10
0
Q #4
144
254
1,719
56.7
6.77
57
9
3
13
84.4
15
52
3.5
11
3
OVERTIME
6
12
106
50.0
8.83
40
0
0
0
80.6
0
0
0.0
0
0
5. Timing: Strike while the opportunity is there. Green Bay has holes and issues losing 2 veteran leaders, their LT is lost for the season and the defense is mediocre at best. Chicago is in the same position, long time leader and perennial Pro Bowl LB Brian Urlacher retires. Jay Culter was in the position Stafford is in now and never took that next step. You also have to wonder if Forte can stay healthy a full year? Not to mention Brandon Marshall needs help and the Bears’ defense is just old. Minnesota with Ponder at QB just can’t possibly be a playoff team again without All Day A.P. going into beast mode again.

About Jason Bray

Detroit Sports Columist. Joined The Majors staff in 2012 covering the Detroit Lions.

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