Where Has Matthew Stafford Gone Wrong in 2012?

Nick KostoraContributor IIIOctober 22, 2012

Oct 22, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass against the Chicago Bears during the first quarter at Soldier Field.  Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

Something is clearly wrong with QB Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions.

It is no longer a matter of the occasional bad game or random bad decision. Stafford is consistently hampering the Lions' ability to win football games early in the 2012 season.

Why? Where has he gone wrong in 2012?

Let's breakdown some factors contributing to his struggles:


Awkward Delivery

Behind every great quarterback is proper footwork, delivery and mechanics. Right now, Stafford is fluctuating between proper delivery and downright terrible mechanics.

Stafford has showcased an awkward side arm release at times during his career, but this season it has become increasingly prevalent. The Lions QB knows how to step into throws and deliver hard thrown passes with a proper over-the-top motion, but when flustered or pressured he can revert to an inexplicable and wildly inaccurate motion instead.

This absolutely must stop immediately.

A side arm delivery results in passes that sail much higher than intended, and often can fail to showcase the right amount of touch necessary to complete difficult throws.


Third Down Throws

Matthew Stafford excels in the fourth quarter and with the game hanging in the balance. He is able to miraculously lead game-winning drives that almost make up for Detroit's offensive deficiencies through three quarters.

However, these late game heroics do not excuse the fact that Stafford has failed to deliver this season on third downs. The most important down of each series has been Stafford's worst, and it is forcing the Lions off the field frequently and with little to show for it.

Stafford has completed 53.6 percent of his passes on third down, his lowest percentage of any down. In order for Stafford to turn around his 2012 struggles he must find ways to extend drives and complete passes when the defense knows he is going to throw.

This is a tall order, a difficult task, but Stafford has enough weapons and offensive playmakers to ensure that drives do not consistently stall on third down.


Inability to Find Calvin Johnson for Touchdowns

Yes, heading into Monday Night Football, Calvin Johnson ranked seventh in the NFL in reception yards (558) and first in reception yards per game (111.6), but these statistics have failed to hide the failures between Stafford and Johnson.

When you have a 6'5" 236 pound wide receiver that can jump through the roof and outrun most defensive backs, you must find ways to get him the ball in the end zone.

The excuse that secondaries are double and triple teaming "Megatron" is irrelevant; he was covered just as heavily last season and managed to lead the NFL in touchdown receptions.

Johnson and Stafford have been close to connecting for six, but last time I checked they were not playing with horseshoes or hand grenades. This can be one of the most potent duos in the entire league and yet right now they are failing to put points on the board.

The best receiver in the NFL has to catch the ball in the end zone and Stafford is failing to help him do so. Plain and simple.


Final Thoughts

Stafford has elite talent and ability. Throwing for over 5,000 yards last season was no fluke, but he has moved away from the traits that got him there.

The 2012 season is far from a lost cause and the problems plaguing the former Georgia Bulldog can be fixed swiftly and with relatively simple changes.

Detroit needs to re-discover the type of aerial attack that propelled it to the playoffs a season ago and the blueprint for success is clearly laid out. Stafford has found success before and he can find it again, but changes must take place.

Stafford has gone wrong in 2012, but to consider him a lost cause would be a grave mistake.