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Stafford Support Past Six Seasons

The support for Matthew Stafford has long been a debated topic. I decided to put factual evidence to the case he doesn’t get the proper support. I started by looking at rushing yards for the past six seasons drives starting in opponents territory the last 6 seasons and drops. Here are the results.

Rushing Yards Last Six Seasons (2011-2016)

Yards Yards Per Year Over Detroit Team
1 8,995 0 Det
2 9,245 41.66666667 NYG
3 9,326 55.16666667 ARI
4 9,336 56.83333333 JAX
5 9,476 80.16666667 CLE
6 9,515 86.66666667 ATL
7 9,525 88.33333333 LAC
8 9,686 115.1666667 IND
9 9,976 163.5 RAMS
10 10,059 177.3333333 PIT
11 10,060 177.5 TB
12 10,138 190.5 TEN
13 10,149 192.3333333 OAK
14 10,185 198.3333333 BAL
15 10,228 205.5 NO
16 10,421 237.6666667 MIA
17 10,840 307.5 CHI
18 10,864 311.5 GB
19 10,999 334 CIN
20 11,017 337 NE
21 11,216 370.1666667 DAL
22 11,324 388.1666667 DEN
23 11,440 407.5 WAS
24 11,696 450.1666667 NYJ
25 12,035 506.6666667 HOU
26 12,054 509.8333333 KC
27 12,253 543 MIN
28 12,264 544.8333333 PHI
29 12,475 580 SF
30 12,654 609.8333333 CAR
31 12,989 665.6666667 BUF
32 13,144 691.5 SEA

It’s official. Matthew Stafford had the least rushing support in the last 6 seasons. Detroit is the only team not to crack 9,000 yards rushing for the past six seasons. Sixteen (16) teams had 300 more rushing yards per season including every team in the NFC North. Chicago and Green Bay both got 300 more yards per year support and Minnesota gets 543 more yards per year running the ball.

An average drive is 75 yards. So if the QB handed the ball off every time for 75 yards, that would result in 4 more TDs per year for an offense for 300 more rushing yards. Ten teams have 400 more rushing yards per year and eight teams have 500 more rushing per season support. That is just crazy. Seattle with 13,144 yards could average 9 more TDs per season by just handing the ball off.

Matthew Stafford just hasn’t gotten the rushing support. Stafford ran well with over 5.0 YPC but isn’t a running QB. The problem the Lions have dealt with many injuries at running back and offensive line. Jahvid Best (2011 and 2012), Mikel Leshoure (2011), Reggie Bush (2014) and Ameer Abdullah (2016) have all had major season ending injuries the past six seasons (Best multiple years). Four of the last six seasons, the Lions top back has been hurt for 11+ games. Also, Joique Bell has dealt with injuries but played through them; however, Bell was an undrafted free agent. Linehan, Lombardi and Cooter all abandoned the run game due to injury to the top backs and poor run blocking.

When you can’t run the ball, it means the QB has to do so much more. Having 200-300 or less rushing yards support per season, puts everything on the shoulders of number nine.

Drives Starting in Opponents Territory Last Six Seasons (2011-2016)

# Drives Team
94 CLE
95 Det
95 Ind
100 NO
101 Ten
101 Jax
103 SD
105 LA
108 WAS
110 Chi
110 TB
114 ATL
116 PIT
118 BAL
118 PHI
118 DAL
118 NYG
121 Min
122 Oak
122 BUF
124 Hou
124 NYJ
126 CAR
127 MIA
130 KC
134 Den
134 ARZ
139 GB
141 SF
148 CIN
149 SEA
154 NE

Only the Cleveland Browns have started with the football in opponents’ territory less time than the Lions in the last six seasons. The Browns have a carousel at QB yet Stafford thrives. The Colts have the same but since Luck joined in 2012 they have 87 short fields compared to 71 for Stafford since 2012. Luck has better luck it seems.

Twenty three (23) teams have 15 or more short fields than Detroit the last six seasons. That is fifteen more easy TD opportunities for the QB. Fifteen (15) teams have 25 or more short fields than Stafford. Finally really lucky teams like Green Bay had 44 more short fields and the 49ers had 46 more short fields. You want to know how Kaepernick has a better career passer rating; just look at the rushing totals and the short fields for the 49ers in the last six seasons. The Bengals had 53 more short fields, Seattle 54 more short fields and Tom Brady had 59 more short fields. Brady isn’t elite; he’s just really lucky to have such a defense all these years plus 337 more rushing yards per year over Detroit.

Drops Last Six Seasons (2011-2016)
Team Drops Difference Per Season
Det 195 0 0.00
JAX 181 14 2.33
Oak 177 18 3.00
CLE 175 20 3.33
NYG 170 25 4.17
IND 168 27 4.50
NE 167 28 4.67
Den 167 28 4.67
Phi 162 33 5.50
KC 158 37 6.17
Atl 156 39 6.50
Chi 153 42 7.00
SF 153 42 7.00
Rams 149 46 7.67
GB 148 47 7.83
MP 148 47 7.83
NYJ 148 47 7.83
TB 147 48 8.00
BAL 145 50 8.33
PIT 144 51 8.50
MIA 140 55 9.17
Hou 140 55 9.17
Was 138 57 9.50
Car 135 60 10.00
ARI 133 62 10.33
BUF 132 63 10.50
CIN 132 63 10.50
TEN 124 71 11.83
Dal 121 74 12.33
Min 111 84 14.00
SEA 106 89 14.83
SD 106 89 14.83

So far Stafford has the least rush yards and least amount of short fields. It gets worse. Stafford has the most drops in the league in the last six years and it’s by a large amount. 23 teams have 6 less drops a year or more. Some teams have double digit less drops every year. Stafford just can’t catch a break. The drops have been better the last three seasons for Detroit under Caldwell at least after being awful from 2011-2013. Stafford’s completion percentage has risen drastically since then which is not surprising. The Bears and Packers gets seven less drops per season and the Vikings get 14 less drops than Stafford has to deal with every season. Jacksonville, Oakland and Cleveland are the only comparable drops team and even they have a significant amount less than Detroit.

Summary
Stafford gets the least run support in the league by far compared to most teams, especially most top offenses. He also has the second least short field amounts in the league the last six seasons. Stafford has to do it all himself and he does.

Detroit was 5th in yards per drive in 2016 with 35.70 (top was 40.53) and 15th in 2015 with 31.42 (top was 38.62). Detroit was 15th in 2014 with 31.41 (top 39.38) and 8th in 2013 with 33.22 (top 40.13). Finally, Detroit was 11th with 33.68 yards per drive (top 39.27) in 2012 and 32.74 for 10th in 2011 (top 42.44 NO). Detroit can move the ball but the only way they move the ball is with Stafford. The run game is terrible due to injuries and they don’t get short fields, so Stafford has to do it the hard way with long passing drives.

QB Rating and TDs for Stafford Last Six Seasons

2011 5th at 97.2 rating, 3rd TDS with 41 (had short fields and 4.3 YPC that year)
2012 22nd at 79.8 rating, 19th TDS with 20 (weapon injuries (Burleson, Titus, Broyles and Pettigrew), many non QB fumbles, 18th in rushing, no short fields, league lead in drops)
2013 19th at 84.2 rating, 6th TDs with 29 (despite weapon injuries (Calvin, Burleson, Scheffler), many non QB fumbles, no short fields, many drops)
2014 21st at 85.7 rating, 14th TDS with 22 (Lombardi scheme, protection issues, no run game due to injury, Calvin injuries)
2015 9th at 97.0 rating, 7th TDs with 32 (half Lombardi scheme, half protection issues, no run game, no short fields)
2016 13th at 93.3 rating, 14th TDs with 24 (no run game due to injury, drops, very low number of drives, mediocre protection, no short fields)

If Stafford got the run support and short fields with less drops these other QBS have; Stafford would be top 5 in QB rating and TDs every season. He has been top 7 in TDs 3 times and top 10 in rating twice. He was going to be top 6 in QB rating in 2016 before his injury (100.4 pre-injury). Stafford is an elite QB but his lack of run game, lack of short fields and lack of drops make him look worse than he is. He has vastly improved in the Cooter scheme with 44 TDs and 14 interceptions in 25 games (28 TD and 9 ints for 16 games).

Yes he had Megatron but absolutely nothing else. Also a plethora of receivers trump one elite WR. Plethora of weapons, short fields, a healthy run game, and average drops is what most QBs get. Stafford deserves to have this the rest of his career and should get all or most of this in 2017. We should rename the Lombardi trophy to the Stafford trophy based on how well he has done and what he has to do compared to other QBs.

Sweet Melt. Fin