Matthew Stafford was money, and more Week One observations

AP

I wasn’t sold on the Lions’ decision to make Matthew Stafford the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. Salary cap space is the most precious resource in the NFL, and when the Lions decided to devote more cap space over the next five years than any other team has devoted to any other player, I thought that was the kind of move that will have them unable to build a 53-man roster that can compete week in and week out.

Stafford has now played one game under that new contract, far too small a sample size to come to any definitive conclusions. But I must confess that he turned in exactly the kind of performance he’s going to need to make week in and week out to be worth that contract.

Despite throwing a pick-six on his first play of the season, Stafford was very good on Sunday against the Cardinals, finishing with 292 yards, four touchdowns and no more turnovers after that early interception. Stafford even picked up a big first down with a 15-yard run, and he was sacked only once despite the Lions’ offensive line being without starting left tackle Taylor Decker. He led the way as the Lions beat the Cardinals 35-23.

So can the Lions count on that kind of game from Stafford to become the norm? He certainly has a knack for leading the team to comeback wins: Last year the Lions won an NFL-record eight games that they trailed in the fourth quarter, and yesterday they had another fourth-quarter comeback, going from a 17-9 deficit to a 35-17 lead in less than 15 minutes of playing time. Still, I think Stafford needs to stop making those mistakes that give the Lions an early deficit before I’m ready to change my mind about the wisdom of the Lions signing him to that enormous contract.

After one week of the 2017 season, Stafford looks like he’s worth the money. Let’s see if we still feel that way in a few years.

Here are my other thoughts on Sunday’s games:

Sean McVay was my coach of the day. The Rams were just plain awful last year, averaging just 14 points a game, by far the worst in the NFL. And Jared Goff was the worst quarterback in the NFL, averaging just 155 passing yards a game. Yesterday, in McVay’s first game as the Rams’ head coach, they beat the Colts 46-9, and Goff totaled 306 passing yards despite not throwing much in the second half after L.A. jumped out to a big lead. Meanwhile, in Washington — the place McVay left to take the Rams job — the offense struggled mightily, turning the ball over four times in a 30-17 loss to the Eagles. The 31-year-old McVay is an offensive wunderkind, and he’s off to a great start in his first head-coaching job.

Tony Romo was my announcer of the day. I was thoroughly impressed with Romo in his broadcasting debut. He calls the game like the quarterback he was, identifying aspects of the defensive alignment and telling viewers what the quarterback is looking for. I loved seeing him circle a Titans defensive back and hearing him explain that that was who Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was keying on as he scanned the field — all before the ball was snapped. CBS took a chance on making Romo, who had never worked in broadcasting, its No. 1 analyst. But it appears that risk is going to pay off.

J.J. Watt had my quote of the day. After suffering a hand injury but continuing to play in yesterday’s loss to the Jaguars, Watt said afterward, “I felt fine. I messed up my finger a little bit, but other than that my body felt fine. Just busted the bone through the skin. Nothing bad, just tape it up.”

Thursday night’s game may be ugly. The Texans play the Bengals this week on Thursday Night Football, and that means we may see the two worst offenses in the league facing off. Cincinnati got shut out 20-0 by Baltimore, while Houston lost 29-7 to Jacksonville. With a Thursday night game like that, the NFL is going to have a hard time changing the perception that Thursday Night Football games are the worst games of the week. Said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis of his team’s performance yesterday, “I don’t know if I’ve ever been in such a disappointing football game.” Here’s hoping we don’t get just as disappointing a football game on Thursday night.

Kevin White is star-crossed. It’s hard not to feel bad for White, the Bears receiver who is expected to miss the rest of the season after suffering yet another injury yesterday. White, the seventh overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, has played in just five games and caught just 21 passes in his NFL career. Assuming he’s out the rest of this year, he’ll have missed 43 games to injuries through three NFL seasons.

Aaron Rodgers is the master of the free play. No quarterback has ever been as good as Rodgers at taking shots deep downfield when the defense commits a penalty. He’s a wizard at it. As soon as a Seahawk jumped offside in the third quarter on Sunday, Rodgers launched the ball toward the end zone, where Jordy Nelson ran under it for a 32-yard touchdown. When the opponents make a mistake like that against Rodgers, he makes them pay.

The Colts are a terrible franchise masquerading as a good franchise. Think back about how terrible the Colts were before they drafted Peyton Manning. Then think back about how terrible they were when Manning got hurt and missed a full season, allowing them to draft Andrew Luck. And now look at how terrible they were in yesterday’s loss to the Rams with Luck hurt. For the Colts to go into this season with no one better than Scott Tolzien to quarterback their team was beyond stupid. The Colts happened to have the No. 1 overall pick when Manning and Luck — the two best quarterback prospects of the last 30 years — entered the NFL draft. If not for those two No. 1 overall picks, we’d probably think about the Colts the same way we think about the Browns.

28 responses to “Matthew Stafford was money, and more Week One observations

  1. I’ve always wondered why it took 30 years for someone to make the point that the Colts have been incredibly lucky to be in position to draft “once-in-a-generation” quarterbacks like Manning and Luck. Let’s not forget that they also drafted John Elway in the 1983 draft, which Irsay the elder mangled. The Irsays are buffoons, and I’ve never understood how Bill Pollian got so much credit. How many titles should the Colts have won with Manning? A lot more than one for sure.

  2. People cry about Aaron and catching defenses with 12 on the field or in penalties that give him the free play but that’s something that’s available to 31 other QBs too.

    Either they can’t process what’s going on and make the decision to go for it or they just don’t want to.

    Aaron’s pretty good at the macro view of the field, game situations etc. Others can be too.

  3. Great points about the Colts and Romo. Romo won’t try to make the game all about himself as so many other analysts do, either.
    Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the game right now. Anyone who doesn’t realize that is foolish.
    The Bears gave the Falcons a good game yesterday. Too bad about White. He’s a good player but he just can’t stay healthy.
    The Thursday night game should be done away with. The players hate it and every fan I talk to hates it, too.

  4. The law of karma payback still hovers over them since they left Baltimore in the middle of the night in 1983. When they play in Baltimore the scoreboard describes them as ‘Indy’ not as The Colts. As long as Irsay owns the team they will be like this.

    I remember 2001 when I was living in Indiana and Irsay wanted a new (taxpayer-financed) stadium. He threatened to move the team to L.A. if he didn’t get what he wanted. He got what he wanted but if he hadn’t the colts would have moved to L.A. in the season following right after winning their only superbowl.

  5. 1. Are we still considering Luck a “one-in-a-generation” QB? Has his play borne that out?

    2. Matthew Stafford is the master at making himself look good. Announcers always marvel at how many 4th quarter comeback wins he’s led, but never discuss why the Lions were in a hole in the first place. It’s generally because of Stafford, so basically he’s the idiot savant of cleaning up after himself.

  6. I laugh at all those idiot Raider fans who wanted White over Amari Cooper because white was a “beast”…once again with the younger generation it’s style over substance.. White is a bust and Cooper is well on his way to a great career and possibly Canton someday

  7. Luck is not even close to being one of the two best QB prospects of the last 30 years. He’s a very average QB

  8. teal379 says:
    September 11, 2017 at 7:47 am
    People cry about Aaron and catching defenses with 12 on the field or in penalties that give him the free play but that’s something that’s available to 31 other QBs too.

    __________________________________________________________________________________________

    I dont hear too much bell-aching about Rodgers. Brady did it on Thursday night, and Manning was the king at it. its a tactic to deter the defense from substituting, thus allowing the qb to recognize and take advantage of defensive packages

  9. MMGeneral says:
    September 11, 2017 at 8:03 am
    1. Are we still considering Luck a “one-in-a-generation” QB? Has his play borne that out?

    2. Matthew Stafford is the master at making himself look good. Announcers always marvel at how many 4th quarter comeback wins he’s led, but never discuss why the Lions were in a hole in the first place. It’s generally because of Stafford, so basically he’s the idiot savant of cleaning up after himself.
    —-
    How was it Stafford’s fault? The pick 6 should have been called for pass interference as Tate was tackled when the ball was in the air. It was the special teams errors that were the problem early on. Stafford was gar from the reason they were in a hole.

  10. That pick 6 was a terrible missed call by the Refs. It may have not been PI since it’s hard to tell when the ball was in the air, but it was holding by any definition of the rule. The LB grabbed Tate and actually pulled him backwards.

    That pick 6 was not on Stafford *at all*. The ST gaffes were the other problem in the first half.

  11. MMGeneral says:
    September 11, 2017 at 8:03 am
    1. Are we still considering Luck a “one-in-a-generation” QB? Has his play borne that out?

    2. Matthew Stafford is the master at making himself look good. Announcers always marvel at how many 4th quarter comeback wins he’s led, but never discuss why the Lions were in a hole in the first place. It’s generally because of Stafford, so basically he’s the idiot savant of cleaning up after himself.

    Typically it’s been the suspect defense that has put them in the hole, Stafford is the one that gets them out of the hole. People are laughable, locally all people are talking about is the interception and the PI that wasn’t called, and ignoring the 4 TDs after.

  12. And on another free play, Rodgers ran around, had no one to throw to, and all his receivers came back to the ball as Rodgers threw it into the turf. I guess he’s not “invincible”.

  13. 2. Matthew Stafford is the master at making himself look good. Announcers always marvel at how many 4th quarter comeback wins he’s led, but never discuss why the Lions were in a hole in the first place. It’s generally because of Stafford, so basically he’s the idiot savant of cleaning up after himself.

    You couldn’t have said this any better. Stafford is an average QB that gets way to much hype. The Lions are the Browns of the NFC and have yet to show they are ready to be an actual competitive playoff team. Stafford has three playoff losses, he’s average at best.

  14. “I think I’m burned out on football already.”

    I heard this from a millennial Colts fan this morning. Everything is instant. Including burnout (AFTER WEEK 1 lol!)

  15. Every article I read during the build up to Stafford’s extenion that was critical, and the articles I have been reading after his extension that are critical focus over and over again on the highest paid player.

    Stafford was drafted in the pre rookie wage scale days first overall. If the Lions were not drafting 1st overall that year he would have gone first overall to whatever team did.
    When he got his first extension he got paid a massive amount as well because no QB is going to take less than his rookie deal.

    So, what were the Lions supposed to do?

    Option 1 -Let him walk and start over? He would have been the highest paid free agent in history and gotten at least what the Lions paid him by another team, but more than likely there would have been a bidding war by teams chasing a QB then the lions are back to praying that a QB prospect pans out like every team that doesn’t have one.

    Option 2- Let him play the year out and either franchise him or resign him at the end of year. This is just playing kick the can down the road- It would have cost approx 26.5 to franchise him and his contract pays him 27. if he had a good year on the tag, and if Cousins signed a deal before him, you are prob looking at paying him 30 a year and you are literally back in the same situation.

    option 3 was sign him and move forward which made the most sense.The bottom line is that Stafford is good NFL QB that you can win with. Yes, he’s not Tom Brady or Payton Manning or Aaron Rogers as so many people like to compare him due to era he plays in, but those are literally 3 of the best people the play the position in the history of the game and people seem to forget that.

    Go talk a jets fan, Texans fan, Jags fan, ETC and ask them if they would take Stafford.

  16. Stafford is a great QB, he’s better than more than half the current starters in the league. He just need to get a playoff win, we have been waiting since 1991!

  17. Anyone that thinks Luck is an average QB is a moron. He may not be elite, but he is certainly above average and without him the Colts are the Browns.

    He carried the team to 3 straight 11 win seasons before getting injured after the team was 2-14 despite having a poor roster and terrible coach.

  18. sigh… even after the Stafford extension the Lions are 8th most cap space in 2018 and that’s with franchise LT and CB under long term deals. You act like they crippled the team with this deal. Not even close.

  19. The Thursday night game should be done away with. The players hate it and every fan I talk to hates it, too.
    ——
    Not this 30+ year fan. I thoroughly enjoyed the chiefs/pats game last week and while some of them are clunkers, I’d still rather watch NFL than anything else on Thursday night. You can only watch so many games on Sunday so TNF gives me another chance to watch a game I probably wouldn’t see otherwise. You guys have the choice not to watch so quit belly-aching and trying to ruin it for the rest of us.

  20. Don’t understand the issue people have with Stafford’s contract…it’s market-driven, period…very little to do with whether he’s a top ten or top three QB, he’s good enough. What’s the alternative? Replace him with a re-tread or start all over with a mid-to-late first round draft pick? No Thanks!!!

  21. Seems like Luck is the only things the colts have going for them.
    I think Irsay is a moron, but it just looks like Pagano can’t get that team to fight its’ way out of a paper bag.
    He’s had plenty of time.
    I’m not a fan of first week firings, but I don;t see that they have anything to lose.
    They also need to buy a O-line and O-line coach. (and spare no expense.)

  22. Before you hate, remember we have one playoff win in 60 YEARS and 0-16 season in the books… says:
    September 11, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Just wait, the forth playoff loss is right around the corner. Stafford is overrated. Ryan L. is mad cuz Lions bad.
    ————
    At least your Bears have Mike Glennon…lol

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