2016 season assessment: Matthew Stafford

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2016 stats: 388-594 passing, 4,327 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, 10 interceptions. 37 carries, 207 yards and two touchdowns. Sacked 37 times.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had another impressive season in 2016, even catapulting himself into the MVP conversation throughout the first three-quarters of the year. The season didn’t end in a favorable manner for the either the Lions or Stafford though.

Through 12 games, Stafford was playing as good as any quarterback in the league. He had thrown for 3,224 yards (293 yards per game), 21 touchdowns, and only five interceptions. The first quarter of their Week 14 matchup with the Chicago Bears was a defining point for how the season would turn out for him, however. After suffering an injury to his throwing hand while attempting a pass, Stafford would be forced to wear a splint covering his middle finger for the rest of the season.

Stafford finished out the season in a quite pedestrian fashion, especially for his extremely high standards. The final five games of the year (including the playoff game) saw him throw for 1,308 yards (261 yards per game), three touchdowns, and five interceptions. He failed to throw a touchdown pass in three of those games while throwing at least one interception in four of the contests.

Although he played through the injury, it was glaringly obvious that it took a toll on Stafford’s play over the course of the final handful of games. Could the season have turned out differently for Detroit without the injury? Of course, but that’s a topic for a different day.

Stafford’s consistent never-say-die attitude on the gridiron is part of the reason he has become one of the most endeared athletes in the history of Detroit sports, but with it come some cringe-worthy moments. Remember this moment from Week Two against the Tennesse Titans?

Although the grit that he showed on this play is part of the reason that he set a career high in rushing yards, it is never a good feeling for the fans (or management, for that matter) to see their franchise quarterback lower his shoulder to lay out a defender. More often than not, quarterbacks are on the wrong end of such a play. Given the fact that we’ve seen Stafford injured more than we’d like throughout his career, let’s hope he doesn’t choose to continue attempting such plays.

Overall, Stafford’s individual season as a whole was good, even great at times. With just one year remaining on his current contract, the team will likely begin negotiating an extension for him soon. He is the playmaker that the team desperately needs, and there is no reason to believe that he will not continue to be just that so long as he is wearing Honolulu blue.