2018 was not a horrendous season for Matthew Stafford, but it felt far from encouraging. The numbers were not good across the board, with his yardage falling under 4,000 for the first time as a full-time starter and his 21 touchdowns representing his lowest output since 2012. His passer rating and QBR were also five-year lows, and while Pro Football Focus was not quite as harsh, everyone agreed that the Lions need more out of their most important player.
The introduction of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell did not necessarily seem like the best way to revive the Detroit quarterback given Bevell’s emphasis on the running game, but that coaching change may have done just that. Having a legitimate running threat (as well as some healthy receivers) has brought Stafford’s numbers back to what one might expect.
Three games into the season, Stafford is on a 16-game pace that looks awfully familiar: 571 pass attempts, 4,432 yards, 32 touchdowns. His 97.5 passer rating and 59 QBR are much more in line with his career norms than last season, and all of these numbers are more than reasonable for someone with his track record.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Has Matthew Stafford bounced back from a down 2018?
My answer: I always expected Stafford to look better than last season, and the first three weeks have gone about as well as they could. There have been a few errant passes and a couple interceptions, but on the whole, Number 9 looks a lot more like his old self.
The numbers prove this out, but so does the eye test. Stafford seems more in control of the offense and is surely happy to have a healthy Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones around. While T.J. Hockenson, Danny Amendola, and Kerryon Johnson have been up-and-down in the passing game so far, this is perhaps the largest groups of reliable pass catchers Detroit has seen in a while.
Three games are just three games, but I think any real thoughts of a complete Stafford demise should be gone by now. He will never be a top-five quarterback in this league, but if he can continue 2019 at his current pace, there is no room for complaints from the Lions fan base. This is pretty much exactly where Stafford should be.