Buying or Selling Matthew Stafford as the NFL's Most Regressed Player from 2011

Jamal CollierAnalyst IIIOctober 23, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 14: Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions is sacked by Fletcher Cox #91 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half in a game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 14, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Lions defeated the Eagles 26-23. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Matthew Stafford wasn't necessarily expected to repeat his stellar 5,038-passing-yard performance from 2011—but he was supposed to be better than this.

Stafford added 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions to that prolific 2011 passing total. As a fourth-year passer, expectations were that he would at least maintain his ability to lead the Detroit Lions into lighting up a scoreboard.

Throwing as many times as he did last season (663) is bound to result in some interceptions; those were supposed to be a necessary evil as he chucks 40 touchdowns in a season.

Instead, the interceptions are there—Stafford has six in six games—but the touchdowns aren’t.

He’s thrown five touchdown passes in 2012.

Stafford’s Total Quarterback Rating dropped from 65.5 in 2011 (seventh in the NFL) to 55.2 in 2012 (16th) prior to the Lions’ game against the Chicago Bears.

His QBR was 41.8 on Monday night.

By comparison, the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton saw his QBR drop from 55.0 (17th) to 44.3 (25th).

Stafford hasn’t thrown multiple touchdowns in any game this season. He did, however, toss three picks to the St. Louis Rams in Week 1.

ESPN Stats & Information notes that “Matt Stafford is the only quarterback that has yet to throw a pass TD in the [first] half this season (min. 50 pass attempts). He is also tied for the most [first] half interceptions with 5.”

That’s not good.

The Lions don’t have a power-running game that would take command of the offensive play-calling and put early points on the board. That stat is more reflective of the Lions’ inability to gain an early lead on opponents, forcing Stafford to throw the ball later in games.

Perhaps this Detroit offense has been figured out: Taking superstar wideout Calvin Johnson away from Stafford has been a successful strategy for NFL defenses this season.

The Lions have scored an average of 31.3 points per game when Megatron topped 100 receiving yards in 2012. When he has had fewer, Detroit has scored 13 per game.

It lost all three of those contests.