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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.

OpponentComp %YPATD/INT ratioRating
All59.86.91.582.8
Winning teams58.56.71.278.6
Non-Winning teams61.37.11.887.9

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.

1276 comments
Nardo - 8-8 Is Great
Nardo - 8-8 Is Great

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?

Nardo - 8-8 Is Great
Nardo - 8-8 Is Great

I'm walking on eggshells this morning.  Rumor is some banhammers may be swung more aggressively today.

niemerg1
niemerg1

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

Most Exalted 7 Star General Horse
Most Exalted 7 Star General Horse

According to FOX Boston Aaron Hernandez "appears to be directly tied to the homicide" of "associate" Odin Lloyd in North Attleboro, Mass...forensic evidence has reportedly placed a vehicle driven by Hernandez at "one of the crime scenes in (the) case."

Mods Suck
Mods Suck

My head is pounding. I am hitting the sack. See you all tomorrow.

tmonson78
tmonson78 moderator

I'm off as well.

Night all.

adambballn
adambballn

Going to drink more wine... You guys have a good night. Go Hawks!

adambballn
adambballn

Can we call that goal on the Kane penalty a fluke?

Buhlitz
Buhlitz

the dallas cowboys should have waited to get that huge TV in their stadium... they've like half price now!

tmonson78
tmonson78 moderator

Roses are red.

Violets are blue.

I'm a schizophrenic.

And so am I.

Koosh12684
Koosh12684

Alright, I've had enough  Peace.

natesweet
natesweet moderator

I did have  a nice convo with LKP about candy earlier. 

Big Deal
Big Deal

@tmonson78

From Lefty:

"Tell him I said a big Green Bay hello."

I think he's avoiding us ...

Mods Suck
Mods Suck

It is surprisingly easy to clone people's handles on Livefyre.

Dom Capers Did Nothing Wrong
Dom Capers Did Nothing Wrong

What if we did a username/avatar exchange where we all swithced usernames and avatars with a randomly assigned partner?

Mods Suck
Mods Suck

The German word for "fluke" is Zufall, which also means coincidence. A statistical fluke is statistisches Zufallsergebnis (coincidental statistical outcome).

Nardo - 8-8 Is Great
Nardo - 8-8 Is Great

The problem is we all know LKP is smart, and he's a good writer for the site, but he does his shit just to get a rise out of people.  He's not as ridiculous as he makes himself out to be, which begs the question, why does he do it?  There's no need for it here.  Save that dumb shit for ESPN or PFT.

Dom Capers Did Nothing Wrong
Dom Capers Did Nothing Wrong

English: Fluke

Russian: счастливая случайность

Afrikaans: gelukskoot

Traditional Chinese: 吸蟲

Greek: απροσδόκητη επιτυχία

Malay: kebetulan

Kannada: ಚಪ್ಪಟೆ ಮೀನು

Yiddish: פלוקע

Mods Suck
Mods Suck

Totally fluked . . . that is a phrase this site would coin.

natesweet
natesweet moderator

How's this for a meme? Every fluke Lions play that there is an image for you put a fishing rod in the hand of the player who had the fluke play and put a fluke on the line . Where's Raji when you need him. He can do anything. I could do it but I'm too lazy to find the pics.

Nardo - 8-8 Is Great
Nardo - 8-8 Is Great

Ok, so who is going to be in charge and keep track of all the bets we'll all be placing on here over the next couple of months?

Buhlitz
Buhlitz

CMON CHIGACO PLEASE LOSE SOME MORE, I NEED 2 MORE LOSSES OUT OF YOU

MIB Baby Bird Whisperer
MIB Baby Bird Whisperer moderator

That was as exciting as any game I've seen in any spot all year. Throw out game 3 (Total Fluke0, and this has been amazing.

tmonson78
tmonson78 moderator

@LOLebron 

I missed the whole conversation earlier, but based on our conversation yesterday, and this today, I'll try to be more strict when I'm on.

Buhlitz
Buhlitz

LKP would have been right if not for that fluke