Why Matthew Stafford Deserves Patience and a Legitimate RB
He could also use a legitimate running game alongside him, but more on that later.
Stafford has been heavily criticized this season and, at times, that criticism has been justified. A QB that throws for 5,000 yards in a season must accept a new found spotlight constantly shining on each of his performances.
Over 300 yards are expected weekly and so is the ability to carry Detroit's offense.
When Stafford does not meet those milestones, questions are raised. People wonder why he starts throwing with a side-arm motion at times.
The fact that he and Calvin Johnson have only hooked up for one touchdown thus far has alarmed fans, and so has Detroit's inability to move the football until the fourth quarter seemingly every week.
However, Stafford is far from the biggest problem on the Lions this season. He has thrown for over 300 yards on five different occasions to accompany a completion percentage of 63.9.
Where the problem lies is in the play calling of Scott Linehan, along with the lack of a running game. These problems would seem to contradict each other.
The fault of Linehan is that he is fiercely committed to trying to establish a ground attack early in games, giving the ball to Mikel LeShoure early and often no matter how meager the returns may be. Accordingly, LeShoure has just one game of at least 100 yards rushing all season.
Linehan refuses to accept that the high-tempo aerial assault that Detroit employs in the fourth quarter each week to play catch up may also be a great way to get early leads.
Why wait to unleash Stafford and Johnson until the fourth quarter when the Lions could use the passing game to allow LeShoure legitimate holes to run through?
Right now, opposing defenses are able to load the box early in games because they know Detroit will attempt to establish the run.
Linehan must be willing to remove this aura of predictability around his offense.
LeShoure is a talented back with a ton of potential, but it is hard to excel when teams know he is getting the ball. Stafford and the passing game must be allowed to stretch the field vertically and open up running lanes for LeShoure and Joique Bell.
Which brings us back to our main point; have patience with Stafford.
He is making the most of a situation he has little control over. When Linehan opens up the playbook and allows him to make plays in the fourth quarter, good things happen.
Late game heroics have become second nature to Detroit's offense, but they would be far from necessary if Stafford wasn't relegated to third-down duty in the first half of most contests.
The Lions offense has all the proper pieces in place, including a legitimate running back, but until the play calling changes, it will be tough not to be frustrated with Detroit's offensive output.
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