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Where do Matthew Stafford's yards really come from?

Breaking down Matthew Stafford's performances to see where the yards come from.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Just the other night I was laying in bed at the hotel in Galveston, Texas just thinking about what our next move would be on our vacation. I had NFL Network going in the background and my attention was suddenly grabbed by the talk of Lions camp. I found myself a bit shocked by the end of the segment. Partly because I couldn't believe the mainstream NFL media was paying attention to the Lions. But mostly because of a comment made by LaDainian Tomlinson.

When assessing the career of Matthew Stafford and his 2015 season, Tomlinson proclaimed quite confidently that "most of those yards come late in the game when the Lions are behind." This wasn't, and still isn't, a new narrative to hear. Many analysts and fans have been making this claim for years and likely will continue to do so. But I wanted to get to the bottom of this to see if that statement truly is the case. Here's what I found:

End of the game yards

First, I want to talk about the idea that Stafford throws the majority of his yards in the final quarter of the game. So I broke down the final quarter of each game from 2015 and found that out of the 4,262 yards Stafford threw, only 1,184 of them came in the final quarter. Here's the total breakdown:

Week Fourth Quarter Yards Total Yards % of yards in 4Q
1 80 246 32.5%
2 46 286 16.1%
3 117 282 41.5%
4 96 203 47.3%
5 0 188 0.0%
6 80 405 19.8%
7 118 256 46.1%
8 87 217 40.1%
10 97 242 40.1%
11 75 282 26.6%
12 60 337 17.8%
13 50 220 22.7%
14 73 245 29.8%
15 43 254 16.9%
16 69 301 22.9%
17 94 298 31.5%
Average 28.2%

So there it is right there for all to plainly see. The majority of Stafford's yards certainly do not come in the final quarter of the game. If you care to make the argument that 1,184 is a lot for that sample size, all you have to do is realize that Stafford threw for 3,078 yards in the rest of these games.

Yards that come late in games which the Lions are losing

Looking at the numbers, that's not exactly true. Let's take another look at the previous graph with a bit of a twist.

Fourth Quarter Yards Total Yards
Loss 80 246
Loss 46 286
Loss 117 282
Loss 96 203
Loss 0 188
Win 80 405
Loss 118 256
Loss 87 217
Win 97 242
Win 75 282
Win 60 337
Loss 50 220
Loss 73 245
Win 43 254
Win 69 301
Win 94 298

Yes, Matthew Stafford did throw more yards in the final quarter of games the Lions lost as opposed to games they won. That's sort of a self explanatory stat that fits every quarterback in football. But does it support the theory that the majority of Stafford's yards comes in the final quarter of games the Lions are losing? If 667 yards is considered the majority, then you nailed it, LT. But I would point out that Stafford threw for almost as many yards in wins with 518 yards.

So there you have it. It's quite clear from the stats that Matthew Stafford does not accrue the majority of his yards late in the game or late in losses. I'm not sure what would possess anyone to feel this way, but it is not so. I want to hear from you on this one. Do you think 1,184 is too much? Or do you think this is a blind narrative? Be sure to leave your comments below or come chat with me about this on Twitter at @POD_Payton.

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