A Film Review Of The Detroit Lions Sunday Night Matchup Against The Steelers In Week Eight.
In week five of the NFL season, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford sustained a couple injuries to his lower body against the Carolina Panthers. The Lions were 3-1 headed into the game at Ford Field. This was following an injury to his forearm against the Atlanta Falcons in week three, which required Stafford to wear a wrap over it until this past week.
Unfortunately, the injuries noticeably lowered Stafford’s accuracy the following week against the Minnesota Vikings. His ball placement since that game has been inconsistent, especially for how well Stafford was playing before hand.
The Saints game was much like this as well. His ball placement was inconsistent on film and was also evident by his season-low 48% completion percentage. It caused stalled drives and led to three interceptions for Detroit’s offense, and was a big reason they could not keep pace with Saints.
Not only was Stafford’s arm effected, but he also had a recognizable limp that prevented him from extending plays with his feet, where he has really succeeded lately. His inability to scramble led to more sacks and more stalled drives.
However, theses issues look like they are coming to an end. He really utilized the bye week to get healthier and looked much better when facing the Pittsburgh Steelers the following week.
Stafford Looks Healthy Again In Week Eight
While there certainly were some mental mistakes against the Steelers this past week for the Lions quarterback, he played really well physically in this game. He looked to be back to his evasive self in the pocket. He was able to extend plays with his feet and had some great ball placement in this game. There were a couple of high difficulty throws that Stafford made in this game, that he was not making before the bye week.
This play helps illustrate how Stafford getting healthier has positively impacted performance. This is one of the hardest throws for a quarterback to make. He is a right-hander, rolling to his left, and throws the ball across his body 45-yards downfield against close man coverage, with nearly perfect ball placement.
In previous weeks, this big play likely would not have happened. He likely would not have been able to evade the pressure and roll out to his left as well as he did. He needed to be able to quickly set his feet before making the throw and would also have been very difficult to do when he was still limping in previous weeks.
His ball placement in this game was far more consistent than in the previous three. These plays was not a one off. While his 60% completion percentage for the game may look bad, when you put on the film you see a common problem this for this total: drops.
Drops like the one above came in crucial situations and ultimately effected the outcome of the game. But this was rarely due to ball placement issues on Stafford’s end. He throws a great jump ball for receiver Marvin Jones on this play for the go-ahead touchdown, and it goes through his hands.
While the sting of these recent losses might still be there, have solace in knowing this team is headed in the right direction. Their remaining schedule looks favorable and a healthy Matthew Stafford is arguably better than every opposing quarterback left. With their quarterback performing better and better with health, the Lions season still has plenty of room for hope.