NFL

Does Matthew Stafford Really Fold Under Pressure?

Dec. 16, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Chris TrapassoAnalyst IDecember 27, 2012

Matthew Stafford has had an absolutely unreal 2012 season. 

With 305 yards in the season finale against the Chicago Bears in Detroit, he'll compile back-to-back 5,000 yard passing campaigns, the first quarterback in NFL history to do so. 

Also, he is seven attempts away from breaking Drew Bledsoe's mark of 691 passes thrown in the 1994 season. 

Despite his prolific yardage numbers, and just as remarkably, the Lions signal-caller has thrown only 17 touchdowns with a whopping 16 interceptions and has a QB rating of 79.2. 

Throwing for close to 5,000 yards with less than 20 touchdowns isn't an easy thing to do, and much of Stafford's struggles have led to his team's 4-11 record. 

According to Bears defensive back Major Wright, if the former No. 1 overall pick is pressured, he "folds."

Here's Wright's quote via The Detroit News:

You've got Matthew Stafford, he's definitely having an OK seasonHe can make any

throw on that field, so you have to be aware of putting pressure on him because

you put a little pressure on him he kind of folds. You put a little pressure on

him, you close the pocket on him, and he hesitates. He doesn't make that perfect throw.

Is that really true? 

How has Stafford fared against pressure this season?

You be the judge. 

As stated by ProFootballFocus.com (subscription required), Stafford's accuracy percentage of 55.9 percent—a metric that tracks the percentage of aimed passes a quarterback completes while counting drops as completions—when facing what PFF deemed as pressure, ranked him 28th in the NFL of 39 qualifying quarterbacks. 

Guys like Philip Rivers, Matt Cassel John Skelton, Brandon Weeden and Ryan Fitzpatrick have higher accuracy percentages when pressured than Stafford. 

Yikes. 

On 196 drops in which he was pressured, he took 27 sacks (tied for 15th) and tossed only three touchdowns to three interceptions. 

But it all doesn't just come down to the stats, even the advanced ones. 

Stafford, a guy blessed with an inherently strong and typically accurate arm, has become infamous for neglecting all of his delivery mechanics and proper footwork when pressured, often leading to ghastly interceptions. 

Although this interception against the Chicago Bears came on a last-gasp effort, check the way he pumped, then ultimately threw falling away from his target with a side-armed release. 

If you re-watch Stafford's 2012, the side-armed delivery, one that's even unorthodox for baseball pitchers, and off-balance throws appear often in every game, and typically, they appear when defenders are nearing. 

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