Sunday evening, there was a little confusion as to what happened with Matthew Stafford and the way the Detroit Lions handled his injury designation or when exactly they knew Stafford wouldn’t be play.
Some players told the media that they knew he was going to be out on Saturday night. Some players—including quarterback Jeff Driskel—said they didn’t know until the morning of the game.
On Wednesday, Stafford didn’t seem worried at all about his injury, saying he was “fine.” But it’s clear something changed, either on Friday or Saturday, drastically.
Reports are that the NFL is looking into the situation to see if the Lions handled the situation correctly, and so head coach Matt Patricia tried to provide some clarity on the situation during his Monday media session. Here’s his entire answer, with emphasis added from myself personally to the important parts:
“Basically the way last week worked was Stafford practiced all week. He took a lot of reps during the course of the week. Now we always practice our backup quarterback. We have for the entire season in a certain amount of reps during the course of the week. I’d say, depending on the previous game, a lot of those reps for the backup quarterback, we usually go earlier in the week. Maybe later in the week, depending on where Matthew feels in the beginning part of the week—or if it’s a short week or something along those lines.
He felt really good through the course of the week. So that was all positive from that standpoint. We had some additional scanning Friday evening that took place, and that scanning really caused us to have some further internal discussion over the weekend. That was really what sparked some of those conversations. The discussions, the details of those, I’m going to leave private. Those are medical conversations.
But, to be honest with you, Saturday when we came in before we left (for Chicago), just to prepare the team and our preparation to make sure we were doing our due diligence, because of where the rep count was, I told the team, ‘Look, we have to be prepared for all outcomes, and if it’s a situations where our quarterback can’t play, we have to be ready to go.’
We actually extended our Saturday walk-through with that in mind. So we took a double amount of reps just to get everybody ready to go.
It’s really no different than some of the other things we do during the course of the week with other positions, whether it’s a specialty player—a punter, a kicker. Obviously the quarterback is in the same situation, because you basically only have one guy that basically does the majority of that stuff.
With that in mind, I wanted to make sure the team was prepared. But really knowing Matthew Stafford, he wants to play. He’s extremely tough. He’s extremely competitive, and honestly, we spent most of Saturday trying to figure out a way, if there was a way, for him to play safely. I mean, that’s really it.
He’s very competitive, he’s honestly one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around. I’ve seen him play through some pain in other games that I don’t know if even some of the tougher guys would’ve played through.
So in those situations where it looks as we’re going through the course of the week and previous weeks where he’s been really sore, beat-up, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know if this guy is gonna make it’ and he shows up on Sunday.
With that in mind, knowing the toughness, knowing how competitive he is, I just wanted to wait as long as possible, really from that standpoint, because of his situations.
And I would say the timeline for us was when we got to Chicago late Saturday night, got done with meetings, I think at that point in time that I just knew he wouldn’t start. And out of respect for him, and everything that he’s done for this organization, I just wanted to leave the option open when we got to Sunday if he wanted to dress. I think that’s important. I think that’s important to the player. I’ve been in that situation before where I had to tell a very established, long-term, long-time great player in the NFL that he was inactive. It probably broke my heart more than it broke his to tell him that. So I wanted to leave him that option, and therefore we’d make it official on Sunday morning if he wanted to dress.
Honestly, if he woke up good Sunday and walked in—there was another conversation Sunday. So we had to meet again and go through that on Sunday morning and at that point we made the decision it wasn’t safe. We couldn’t figure out a way to do it.
So Jeff was told at that point that he was going to go. It wasn’t a surprise to him from that aspect of it because we prepared appropriately. And we just went out and played.”