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Matthew Stafford is not a bad quarterback against winning teams

Is Matthew Stafford to blame for the Detroit Lions' woes against winning teams?  The numbers may surprise you.

Is Matthew Stafford to blame for the Detroit Lions’ woes against winning teams? The numbers may surprise you.

We here at WCSN have spent a great deal of time recently poking fun of Matthew Stafford for this chart, which shows that the Lions have gone 1-23 against teams with a winning record with Stafford as their quarterback. WCSN Lions beat writer Russ Thomas then responded with a well-intentioned (but perhaps over the top) article arguing that many of those losses are not Stafford’s fault.

Curious about the matter, I decided to delve more deeply into the statistics to see what the numbers say (with the help of our fearless leader Rourke Douglas Decker). The results may surprise some of you.

The Numbers

Matthew Stafford has made 46 career starts for the Detroit Lions (including playoffs). These have been split nearly perfectly, with 24 of them coming against teams with winning records (9-7 or better on the season) and 22 against teams with non-winning records (8-8 or worse on the season). Stafford’s basic statistics for those two sets of games are shown below.

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Clearly, Stafford has not performed quite as well against winning teams as he has non-winning teams, but the difference is not really that great (more on this later). After all, it is to be expected that winning teams will generally be better, and therefore statistics against them can be expected to drop a little bit. In fact, a recent article I did on quarterback performance in the playoffs suggested that for a typical quarterback’s passer rating will dip about three to five points in the playoffs. Stafford’s drop-off of 4.2 points from his career average to his performance against winning (roughly speaking, playoff-caliber) teams is right in this expected range.

But more than looking at overall numbers, I wanted to go deeper and view this on a game-by-game basis. After all, when a sample size is only 22 or 24 games, it is fairly easy for one or two outliers to skew the average. Consequently, I went through all 46 of Stafford’s games and looked at his passer rating for each. The graph below shows the percentage of games Stafford has had at various passer ratings against both winning (red) and non-winning (blue) opponents.

Figure 1. Passer ratings broken down by percentage of games for Matthew Stafford against winning and non-winning opponents.

Figure 1. Passer ratings broken down by percentage of games for Matthew Stafford against winning and non-winning opponents.

The number of bad games (passer rating below 70) Matthew Stafford has is very similar in both groups.

The difference in his passer rating between the groups originates in the distinction between solid games (passer rating between 70 and 90), very good games (between 90 and 110), and outstanding games (above 110). Against winning teams, Stafford falls mostly in the solid category, with a healthy number of very good games. Against non-winning teams, Stafford is mostly in the outstanding and very good range.

Conclusion

The logical conclusion to draw here is that Matthew Stafford is not a bad quarterback against winning teams.

Over 75 percent of his games against winning teams feature a passer rating that indicates he played well enough to give his team a chance to win. He may not demolish winning teams like he often does non-winning opponents, but the Lions’ woes against winning teams can certainly not be blamed solely on him.

Rather, Detroit has to figure out what they need to change around Stafford in order to help them—as a team—defeat quality opponents.  They might want to start by looking at their defense, which has given up 28.8 points per game against winning teams when Matthew Stafford is their quarterback.

Coming soon

In the second half of this analysis, we will compare Matthew Stafford’s splits against winning and non-winning opponents to those of NFC North quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

1319 comments
Nardo - One Week Seahawks Fan
Nardo - One Week Seahawks Fan

OK I'm ready for a bet - let me know if anyone wants this action:  Cutty makes at least 15 starts, and goes for 28 TDs and 4000 yds.  Takers?

AndrewLeT
AndrewLeT

Oh how exciting week 2 features the manning vs manning showdown in Jersey then week 12 features the brady vs manning jerk off, oh the story lines already building this season.  Can't wait.

niemerg1
niemerg1

see. everyone take note. what happened below is how discourse SHOULD be on this site

 ✔

I feel a dozen or so eggs coming on.  Later.

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@Preparation_A  Won't happen.  He won't have the stats.  Peyton Manning is the QB and his PR to the two top WRs is 120+.

AndrewLeT
AndrewLeT

oh and manning goes back to indy for the first time since he left. 

LKP
LKP

Fluke convo bro

LKP
LKP

@Mr._Horse You'll hav egg on your face in no time Horse

AndrewLeT
AndrewLeT

@Preparation_A I'm trying to piece together what i missed last night but it surely appears that way. 

LKP
LKP

@Preparation_A @2012 Was a Fluke is Fact Lieuget, Cam Thomas and Kendall Reyes all played welll last year as well for their Dline.

KC has a sneaky good defense. We'll seee what Reid can do with Alex Smith

LKP
LKP

@Preparation_A @2012 Was a Fluke is Fact 7 is probably good for 2nd though. But Denver is too good.  Their LB Core on D isn't bad. Their secondary sucks except for Weddle. Cox needs to stay healthy and Gilchrist must develop

Koosh12684
Koosh12684

@andylet445 @Preparation_A They are banning f l u k e!  And when LKP is a flat out dick, they (mods) will delete posts.  Also when certain people egg him on.