The Detroit Lions looked like they were poised to get back to the playoffs at the start of 2018. Now they’re back in familiar territory.
At the bottom of the NFC North. The low point came when they lost to the Chicago Bears twice in a span of 12 days. By far the worse one coming at home against an opponent that didn’t have their starting quarterback due to injury. How in the world did they manage to blow a winnable game at home when it appeared they had a decisive edge?
Simple. Their own quarterback, one proclaimed to be among the better names in the NFL, threw the game away in the final minutes. With the score tied 16-16, Matthew Stafford had his opportunity to put the Lions in front. He had the ball. The Bears had just gone 3-and-out. Their defense was looking gassed. All he had to do was drive down the field and score just he’d done the previous drive.
Instead, on the very first play, he threw an ill-advised out pass that safety Eddie Jackson picked off and returned for a touchdown. Then, to add insult to injury, he got the team down in the red zone on the next drive with time ticking down and threw an interception in the end zone to Kyle Fuller. Those two backbreaking throws sealed his teams’ fate, and may have also altered his standing in Detroit.
Matthew Stafford becoming too expensive for his level of play
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Stafford is being paid as one of the top quarterbacks in football. That comes with a certain degree of expectations. The Lions are paying him to carry this team to wins. That’s why they drafted him #1 overall and are now giving up over $100 million. Peter King of NBC Sports not only believes his seat is growing hot, but even doubled down on what the Lions should do at the start of the 2019 offseason.
"“I think, next spring, the Lions should trade Matthew Stafford to the Jaguars.”"
This wasn’t just a statement for the fun of it either. King has seen lots of good quarterbacks in his lengthy career and his annoyance at Stafford was evident when he went into detail about why Detroit should consider it.
"“But I’m a little tired of hearing how great Stafford is, and how he’d be so much better with an offensive line and a supporting cast, and how formidable he’d be with a running game. A great player—even an above-average one—can see the safety cheating down, waiting to pounce on a quick out to a tight end running a short route into the left flat. Bears safety Eddie Jackson plucked it easily and went in for the winning touchdown. Not blaming Stafford for the final pick, in the end zone with 67 seconds left going for the tie, but the lack of communication on the play was a fitting end to another egg laid by the Lions on Thanksgiving. This likely will be the 27th straight season without a playoff victory for the Lions, and Stafford was drafted to end it. Nothing doing so far.”"
It’s important to remember that the GM and the head coach who drafted Stafford back in 2009 are both gone. The men running the show now come from the Patriots system and they might have a different idea of the quarterback they want. For all his big plays and great comebacks, Stafford can’t seem to elevate his play in the biggest games. For guys who watched Tom Brady for over a decade, that’s a major red flag.