Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had a breakout season in 2011, with 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns, but his production has declined in 2012. Stafford, however, says he doesn’t care about that.
“I’m not worried about stats,” Stafford told the Detroit News. “I am worried about winning. That is the biggest thing. When quarterbacks play really good, their team has a chance to win. But I know the only thing that’s going to make it better is to keep working hard.”
The issue, however, is that Stafford’s stats are a reflection of the quality of his play, and as the quality of Stafford’s play has declined, the Lions’ record has declined. It’s great for a player whose stats are good to downplay the significance of his own stats in an attempt to deflect the credit to his teammates. It’s not so great when a player whose stats are declining while his team’s record is declining to act like stats don’t matter.
The bottom line is that Stafford isn’t playing as well this year as he did last year, and his stats and the Lions’ record both reflect that. His completion percentage is down, his yards are down, his yards per attempt are down, his passer rating is down and his touchdowns are way down. The only stat where his numbers haven’t declined is the one stat where you want your numbers to decline: He has thrown six interceptions, putting him on pace to match last year’s total of 16.
Stafford’s slump has raised concerns in Detroit, but he says there’s nothing to worry about that.
“There is a lot of football left,” Stafford said. “We obviously haven’t started the way we wanted to, but there are 10 games left. Ultimately, I feel like quarterbacks are judged on wins and losses.”
Whether quarterbacks are judged on wins and losses, touchdowns and interceptions, or passing yards and passer rating, Stafford hasn’t been as good as he was last year. If the Lions are going to turn their season around, he needs to play a lot better.