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There has been chatter about Matthew Stafford during the Detroit Lions’ three-game losing streak, and even some concern that his injured finger has thrown off his play.
That’s not the case. Stafford’s finger is not an issue at all. He played very well against the Green Bay Packers in Week 17. The Lions didn’t win, but Stafford wasn’t the problem. He threw the ball very, very well on Sunday.
Stafford will need to play well again for the Lions to upset the Seattle Seahawks in a wild-card playoff game on Saturday, and he’s capable of that. When you study the film of his previous performance, he made some big-time throws.
In the first quarter, on third-and-9, Golden Tate ran an out route against Packers cornerback LaDarius Gunter. Stafford faced pressure from Julius Peppers, who came on a stunt between the right tackle and right guard, and was hit right as he threw. Stafford still made an excellent throw to Tate for 17 yards.
In the second quarter, Stafford made perhaps his best throw of the night. You won’t see many quarterbacks who can do this. On third-and-15, with the Packers playing quarters zone coverage behind a five-man rush, Andre Roberts ran vertically at safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to isolate the matchup of T.J. Jones and Quinten Rollins on the outside. Jones ran an out-and-up route, and Stafford dropped the ball right into Jones’ hands just over the outstretched arm of Rollins for 35 yards. That’s impressive.
Stafford was sharp for most of the first half. He missed one throw he had to make, a deep sideline toss to Tate against a busted coverage, but overall he was playing at a high level.
Here’s another nice throw in the second half. Marvin Jones ran a fade route against Rollins from deep in Lions territory. The Packers played man coverage and Jones got on top of Rollins. Stafford dropped the ball in the bucket with precise ball placement for a big play.
Stafford threw one interception, though it was late in the game and he was trying to make a play. Micah Hyde was the locked man-to-man defender on Tate, and he had Tate blanketed. Stafford threw it anyway and it was picked off.
Stafford can’t afford many mistakes against Seattle. But we saw on Sunday that he is operating at a high level. He made some great throws against the Packers. He’ll need to be sharp again this week.
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NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.