The mechanics of a quarterback are the keys to their success, and the issues in Stafford’s game can’t be dismissed.
It is obvious when we take a deeper look that Stafford’s footwork and his release point are not mechanically sound, and these issues need to be addressed to get Stafford back to his playing ability from a year ago.
Matthew Stafford isn’t the most mechanically sound quarterback in the NFL, but he doesn’t need to be because of his arm strength and ability to make incredible throws in crunch time. He has the arm talent to get by with average mechanics, but his average mechanics have slipped in 2012, causing him to be inaccurate.
A quarterback’s footwork is one of the most fundamental aspects in making sound, accurate throws. Quarterback accuracy is directly tied to footwork, and there are examples of poor footwork that has led to bad throws.
This pass was thrown late in the fourth quarter of Detroit’s Week 7 loss to the Chicago Bears.
In the yellow circles, notice Stafford’s right foot is on the 50-yard line and his left foot is on the 49-yard line. His feet are set in such a manner that he has no base under him and he can only make the throw with his arm.
He doesn’t stride into this throw and actually back pedals after making the throw. This is shown in the second picture. This is the wrong way to be moving after the throw. The result is a very poor pass that results in an incompletion. The poor footwork would be understandable if there was pressure, but there is no pressure here and the footwork is just poor.
A quarterback is at his best from an accuracy standpoint when he is able to plant his front foot and drive through his throw. He will not have great accuracy when he is chopping his feet to avoid pressure or lazily throwing the ball sidearm while fading away from the line of scrimmage.
Stafford’s issue is that his footwork is poor, and poor footwork leads to inaccuracy.
There are times when his base isn’t wide enough and he doesn’t have balance underneath him when he makes a throw. He settles for throwing the ball with only arm motion with nothing underneath him. That's simply not good enough in the NFL.
The second area of concern is Stafford’s release.
A quarterback’s release is the point where he lets go of the football. Generally, Stafford throws the ball over the top and the ball moves near his ear as it leaves his hand. There are times when he throws the ball sidearm out of habit or as a necessity. The problem is that the release becomes inconsistent.
If the release is inconsistent the throws will be also.
At this point in the season, it looks like Stafford has developed a lazy habit of throwing the ball from a lower arm angle than is normal for him and off of his back foot. This is one of the reasons that Stafford has been more inaccurate this year than he was last year.
This picture shows the sidearm throw and the delivery with none of his body moving into the throw. Again, there is no pressure. This looks like a very lazy throw. Stafford has one of the league’s best arms, but even he can’t get away with mechanics that are this poor.
Stafford thinks he can make every throw he attempts because he has in the past. However, he has only been able to make throws in the past because of good footwork, a correct release point and a strong athletic base to support the throw.
Stafford can get back on track easily with a disciplined approach in executing the way he throws the ball and not approaching throws like he is on the playground.