After throwing two interceptions against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, Matthew Stafford was warned by Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell that he would be benched if he tossed a third. Well, apparently Stafford took that as a challenge and made it happen on the very next possession.
True to his word, Caldwell sent out Dan Orlovsky, who finished with 191 yards, a touchdown, and a pick of his own—much better than Stafford’s 188 yards and three INTs.
“It’s like a pitcher not having a very good day,” said Caldwell after the game. “That pitcher comes out and the pitcher, obviously, he’s still the starter. [Stafford is] still our starter, so there will be no issues there. There is no quarterback controversy or anything of that nature.”
Maybe they should bench Stafford. I mean, it wouldn’t make much sense financially after giving him $53 million. At this point, Stafford joins the list of quarterbacks that are too expensive to bench.
That doesn’t change the fact that Matthew Stafford is arguably the worst quarterback in the league this season. He leads the league with eight interceptions and is currently ranked 33rd overall in QB passer rating. In other words, Stafford is sucking in both regular and advanced statistics.
But let’s cut the former No. 1 overall pick some slack. After all, playing for the Detroit Lions is no cakewalk: the refs hate you, your run game is dead last in the NFL, and replacing the offensive line with any five fat guys you find at Walmart couldn’t make it any worse.
Ameer Abdullah has the hands of that guy from those old Burger King commercials that was too embarrassed to buy a Whooper, and no matter what general manager Martin Mayhew says, having small hands is a problem and ball security isn’t exactly easy to teach (three fumbles on 59 touches agrees).
The line isn’t giving the team (mainly Stafford and Abdullah) any help on the ground, either. Stafford has only taken seven sacks this season, but he is No. 2 in terms of being the subject of QB pressures. Needless to say, that backfield penetration isn’t helping Abdullah pick up any yardage.
At the end of the day, however, there is no excusing Stafford’s poor play. The Lions picked the former Georgia star after their historic 0-16 season, and six years later he is doing his best to lead them back to that mark.
That being said, I’m not sure I agree with Caldwell’s decision to bench Stafford. Talk about demoralizing—replacing Stafford shows a complete lack of commitment to the quarterback from the Lions’ end. You never see Peyton Manning or Tom Brady getting benched, no matter how poorly they play at any given point. That’s for players like Ryan Mallett and other non-franchise quarterbacks.
It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. Sure, Stafford could take the hint and pull it together this weekend against the Chicago Bears, but presenting competition doesn’t always make players better.
“I still don’t think he’s broken,” said offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi in the week leading up to the matchup with the Cardinals, referring back to comments he made back in January of last year when he was originally hired. “I think he’s a good player.”
Unfortunately, with the Lions sitting at 0-5, Stafford struggling tremendously in every aspect of the game, and the remaining hopes and dreams of Lions’ fans dying off quickly, there doesn’t seem to be much promise in the Motor City.
No, I don’t think the Lions will finish 0-16, but at this point they may as well start tanking for the top pick and do their best to wipe 2015 from their memories.