The First Position Of The 2017 Season Overview Series Starts With The Quarterbacks.
All eyes were on starting quarterback Matt Stafford coming into the 2017 season. During the off-season, the major task at hand was to get Stafford to sign a contract extension. After months of talks, Stafford would finally sign a five-year deal to stay with the team and a sigh of relief went over the fanbase as they locked up their franchise quarterback once again.
When Stafford signed the contract, he was the highest paid player in the NFL, as now Jimmy Garoppolo earns that title and he might not keep it for long as Kirk Cousins is most likely hitting free agency next month.
Stafford had some changes coming into 2017, a better offensive line, and a new addition to the wide receivers, Stafford was gaining traction after another good season from 2016, his first without All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson since his retirement. Stafford was criticized for relying on Johnson and after showing he can play great without him, he started getting national recognition for how good of a player he is. While he wasn’t the only quarterback to play for the Detroit Lions this year, let’s take a look at the season Stafford had in 2017.
Week One Through Four: Matt Stafford’s Good Start
After all the talk of him being the highest paid player in the NFL, Stafford started his 2017 season off on the wrong foot with a pick-six on his first throw and as you would expect, people imploded.
Oh Hell Naw! I don't want to see Matt Stafford throwing pick-6's. Not after becoming highest paid player in NFL. No Sir!
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) September 10, 2017
Stafford would turn it around though and lead the Lions to another fourth-quarter comeback win, something he did eight times in the 2016 season, and this time it was the Arizona Cardinals who were on the receiving end. The Lions would shut up the haters with that win.
4⃣ TDs enough? Yes sir❗️ https://t.co/PNpj7yBOCH
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) September 10, 2017
Next up was the New York Giants on Monday Night Football, something the Lions didn’t have success in winning in the past. Stafford would have a quiet, but a good game against the Giants defense, only getting 122 yards, but two touchdowns and the Lions moved on to 2-0.
The following week would bring up a lot of issues, and another thing added to the list of controversial plays against the Lions. This time, a touchdown would be overturned and with the now famous 10 second run off rule, Detroit would lose the game to the Atlanta Falcons. Despite the loss, Stafford did well but was off on a few throws and you could debate that it cost the team the victory.
After a tough loss to Atlanta, Stafford would have to go into Minnesota and try and get a victory out. While the team would hold on to a 14-7 lead in the end, Stafford was not himself and he started getting sacked more and more with the offensive line missing players. Stafford was sacked six times and while he never threw an interception, he came close and never threw a touchdown. He looked beaten up and injured, which could have been for his poor play.
Week Five Through Nine: The Slump
Things started to take a downward spiral after week four as Detroit overall played a bad game against the Carolina Panthers, and with Stafford getting sacked six times and his forearm injury and many others building up on him, Stafford was inaccurate and not playing well. While Stafford was close to pulling another fourth-quarter comeback, he came up short this week.
After the offense couldn’t get much going the previous week, they woke up against the New Orleans Saints, but it wasn’t enough. Stafford was inconsistent against the Saints, dealing with injuries still, and getting sacked five times, he was able to still make some great plays to get Detroit points on the board, but with three interceptions in the game and multiple tipped passes by the Saints, Stafford’s play was not good enough for the Lions to get a victory.
Coming off the bye week, Stafford looked healthy against the Steelers, but the playcalling would be the main reason why the team couldn’t get much going. Stafford put up a season-high 423 yards, but couldn’t find the end zone once, and played his cards well to not turnover the football.
What would be a first of two fun games against the Green Bay Packers, on Monday Night Football again the Lions would play good football lead by their quarterback. Stafford only got sacked once and with a 78% completion percentage, his throws were accurate and impressive, giving the Lions a win.
Week 10 Through 13: The Mediocracy
What started off as a scary game that the Lions could drop against the winless Cleveland Browns, Stafford wasn’t on his A game at kickoff. He would be able to rebound and get back to his old self and get Detroit to a 38-24 win and made the game look not as close as it actually was.
Getting sacked four times the previous week, Stafford would get hit three times against the Bears, but they were more aggressive hits. Stafford still looked fine again, not making any mistakes and getting Detroit the win.
Thanksgiving wasn’t a great time for Stafford against the Vikings. He had his worst game of the season, getting sacked three times, throwing an interception and injuring his ankle in the process. He was off on a majority of his throws and even on his off game, the team almost was able to pull out a win. A better supporting cast for Stafford can give turn these kinds of losses into wins.
Despite suffering an ankle injury against Minnesota, Stafford’s ankle wouldn’t bother him too much against the Ravens, but he would suffer a hand injury as a player stepped on his hand, forcing him to not finish the game and backup Jake Rudock would have to finish the game. Before the injury, Stafford only made very few mistakes with five incomplete passes, interception, and the fumble that would cause his hand to get injured. Detroit would lose and hurt their playoff chances.
Week 14 Through 17: The Finish
Week 14 was the first time all season Stafford never got sacked. Despite throwing two interceptions, the injury didn’t seem to be the cause of the miscues. One ball was underthrown and the other was just a bad decision by number nine. The game was still his second-highest completion percentage of the season at 81%, and he would get the victory over Tampa Bay.
In all silver, Detroit showed up against the Chicago Bears and Stafford seemed to do well. Despite a few throws here and there that are off, Stafford would break the three-game interception streak, even while getting sacked four times.
When things needed to go their way, in the end, they wouldn’t for the Lions against the Cincinnati Bengals. Stafford started off shaky and had some miscues, one turning into an interception. Stafford couldn’t step up that big when the team needed him too, but the blame can’t all be thrown on his shoulders.
While the season finale against the Green Bay Packers didn’t count for anything, it didn’t stop Stafford from having a good game. He was asked if he wanted to play in a meaningless game, and he assured the media that he is the starting quarterback and that it is his job to go out there and play. Stafford would join in on the fun while the team dismantled the Packers, and on a two-point conversion, went out on a route and caught the pass wide open. You may have seen the play in Super Bowl 52, so go check out where the Philadelphia Eagles learned it from here.
You Can’t Forget About Jake Rudock
While a majority of the Detroit Lions fanbase loves Stafford and sees him as the franchise quarterback, the minority are fans of former Michigan Wolverine now Detroit Lion Jake Rudock and see him as the future of the franchise.
And those people would be wrong.
Rudock could be a solid number two option in the NFL in his career, but he will never amount to becoming a starter in the league. While Rudock has done well in preseason games, he was forced to play in three games this season, but two times were just for kneels or handoffs. The one game he actually had to play was against Baltimore and it was ugly.
Rudock would finish the game and the season 3/5 for 24 yards and an interception (which would be returned for a touchdown). His value on the team isn’t much and he could be replaced through the draft, as Detroit won’t spend their money on a free agent quarterback.
Overall, this season for the quarterback position in Detroit was one that did well and helped the team greatly. As we can see in the NFL, without a solid quarterback, teams can fall apart and struggle. Luckily for the Lions, they won’t have that issue for some time. Stafford would finish the season with 4,446 yards, 29 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and 29 carries for 98 yards.
The Lions should be happy with Matt Stafford, as many teams are looking for a quarterback for their future, Detroit has theirs and they believe he can bring them playoff wins, and championships. With new head coach Matt Patricia coming in, and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter sticking around, Stafford’s chances have gone up at succeeding in Detroit, he just needs the supporting cast, and that relies on GM Bob Quinn to go find him that help.