Even by Detroit Lions standards, the last few weeks have been rough.
The Lions have lost two in a row, falling to 3-5, traded their most consistent offensive player in Golden Tate, and rookie head coach Matt Patricia unprofessionally called out a reporter’s professionalism because of poor posture.
The criticism is coming from all sides, and at least one member of the franchise isn’t going to bite his tongue.
‘The guy is overpaid … he’s a stat king’
Rich Gannon, now a commentator on CBS Sports and Sirius XM NFL radio, made some harsh comments about Lions longtime quarterback Matthew Stafford this week, saying that Stafford’s lack of production early in games is a big reason Detroit is struggling.
“I’m getting sick and tired of talking about Matthew Stafford,” Gannon said, via MLive.com. “The guy is overpaid. He’s been one of the highest-paid quarterbacks over the last four or five years, and he’s a stat king. He picks up a lot of yards and production in garbage time.”
But Gannon wasn’t done.
“At some point, you are what your record says you are. They haven’t been competitive enough in this division. The reason why the Lions are not a better football team — a big reason why — is the lack of production from Stafford in the first quarter to the third quarter. He just doesn’t put his team in position to be competitive and win close games,” he said.
‘I don’t need to answer to Rich Gannon’
Stafford, the No. 1 pick in 2009, has heard plenty of criticism over the years, so Gannon isn’t breaking new ground. Nor was Stafford about to let Gannon’s words impact him.
“I don’t need to answer to Rich Gannon,” he said.
There’s also a problem with Gannon’s assessment. It’s not accurate, not this year.
Stafford’s numbers are consistent
Stafford’s passing numbers are consistent across both halves and even pretty even over each quarter so far this season.
ProFootballReference.com has the breakdown:
In the first quarter, Stafford is completing 69.0 percent of passes (58 attempts), with four touchdowns, one interception and a quarterback rating of 110.3.
In the second quarter, those numbers are 65.9 percent (82 attempts), two touchdowns, one interception, 84.8 rating.
In the third quarter, 69.8 percent (63 attempts), three touchdowns, three interceptions, 90.4 rating.
In the fourth quarter, 67.4 percent (86 attempts), five touchdowns, one interception, 103.0 rating.
Over the first half, 67.1 percent (140 attempts) for 974 yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions, 95.4 rating.
Over the second half, 68.5 percent (149 attempts) for 1,137 yards, eight touchdowns, four interceptions, 97.6 rating.
If there’s any quarter the Lions are having more issues than others, it’s the third. They’re currently averaging just over a field goal (3.2 points) per game in the third quarter. Their best quarter this year has been the first, averaging 6.5 points per game there.
Overall, Detroit is just 20th in the NFL in points per game at 22.5.
“I think it’s on our list of musts every week, is to start fast, and that’s as a team,” Stafford said. “I’m a big part of the team, I understand that, and doing what I can do to get us points. Converting third downs, hitting big shots when we get it, just making sure that when we have those opportunities from the opening kickoff, we’re ready to go. The more I can hit the throws and make the right checks and all that stuff, the better we’re going to be.”
Maybe in the past Stafford’s stats have been the result of garbage-time passing, but not this year.
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