Lions QB Matthew Stafford reportedly played with a broken back last season

At least we have a reason for Matthew Stafford’s decline last season.

The Detroit Lions quarterback reportedly played with broken bones in his back.

That news was relayed by Mike O’Hara, a longtime Lions writer who now works for the team site, on a weekly podcast with WJR’s Ken Brown. It was confirmed later by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

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Stafford had an off season, and it seemed it was due to a change in coaches or a midseason trade of his top receiver, Golden Tate. That seemed to be the least of his problems.

Matthew Stafford reportedly had multiple fractures

Both O’Hara and Rapoport described Stafford suffering multiple fractures.

“He had a broken back last year," O’Hara said, via "Broken bones in his back.”

Rapoport described it as “tiny fractures.” Stafford appeared on the injury report with a back injury late in the season, but it had not been revealed that his injuries were as serious as they were. It’s unclear when he suffered the injury.

Usually, when a player plays through something that serious, it gets reported shortly after the season is done. It might say something about Stafford that it only came out in mid-June, in what appeared to be an offhand comment by a team website writer on a podcast.

Stafford didn’t miss a game last season.

Stafford had a down 2018

Stafford is coming off a poor year. He threw for 3,777 yards, almost 700 fewer than 2017. His touchdowns dipped from 29 to 21. As passing stats exploded around the NFL, Stafford’s 89.9 passer rating was his worst since 2014.

On the surface it seemed like a philosophical change with new coach Matt Patricia hurt, or Stafford simply didn’t have enough targets to throw to after the Tate trade. The injury explains some things.

And to think, the entire offseason almost passed without anyone hearing about what Stafford played through last season.

Matthew Stafford reportedly played last season with broken bones in his back. (Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford reportedly played last season with broken bones in his back. (Getty Images)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

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