If there’s one thing that we know about Matthew Stafford, it’s that he’s tough as nails. The first time the city of Detroit fell in love with Stafford was that moment he came back into the game against the Browns with a separated shoulder and threw the game-winning touchdown.
Since then, we’ve seen Stafford play through multiple hand injuries, ankle injuries and, as we just found out this week, a broken back. Feel how you will about the guy, but you can never say that Stafford doesn’t care or that he’s not tough.
With that said, why does this keep happening to the Lions quarterback? And furthermore, how much more can he take? The latter is a question we can’t answer. We can all hope that Matthew stays healthy and doesn’t take the punishment he’s been taking for the past few years anymore. That’s all we can do.
We can answer the first question. The Lions offensive line has been a mess since Stafford came into the league. He’s been sacked 329 times in his career. That may not be the most since 2009 (Aaron Rodgers holds that distinction with 369 sacks) but it’s a lot. The first five years of Staffords career weren’t the problem for Stafford. He only took 116 of his sacks in that time.
The problem has been going on since 2014. When Jim Caldwell, Jim Bob Cooter and Joe Lombardi came to town. Since then, Stafford has been sacked 40 or more times four of the last five years. All told, he’s been sacked 213 times since 2014. That’s second to only Russell Wilson, who’s been sacked 222 times in that span.
It’s really hard to make any kind of excuse for the Lions letting this happen. As a matter of fact, there really aren’t any excuses outside of some of the injuries the Lions have faced along their offensive line. They’ve been consistent and the Lions never have a backup plan.
Since Bob Quinn arrived the Lions have spent some early draft picks on guys like Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker. They also went out and got Rick Wagner and rounded things out with third-round pick Graham Glasgow.
But the Quinn and the Lions still haven’t done enough. After all, Kenny Wiggins may be starting for the team this year, and they’re continuing to reshuffle the line around at minicamp.
Why did the Lions not go after proven offensive line talent in free agency any of the years that Quinn has been in Detroit? Why haven’t the Lions done all they can do to improve depth to protect themselves from injuries? These are questions that need to be answered considering that this is something that happens every single year now.
The Lions have done some things this year to help quell the issue. They’ve gone out and completely revamped the tight end corps, They have grabbed some depth in Oday Aboushi. They’ve also continued to go all-in on the run game with the addition of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and running back C.J. Anderson.
But they also completely ignored the guard position in free agency and the draft. Outside of signing UDFA Beau Benzschawel out of Wisconsin, they did nothing to replace Pro Bowler T.J. Lang.
Is that enough? Only time will tell, but if we’re speculating at this point, I’d have to say that Matthew Stafford could be in trouble once again.