Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

30 Aug 2013

ESPN: Solving the Matthew Stafford 1-23 Puzzle

Before last year's Week 2 game between Detroit and San Francisco, I noted Matthew Stafford was 0-12 against teams who finished with a winning record. Sure enough, that would extend to 0-16 before his first win (28-24 over Seattle in Week 8). After a tough schedule, Stafford's record fell to 1-23 against winning teams.

Inconceivable. Pure dumb luck should produce a better record than that, but as to be expected with the Lions, they just cannot win.

So after studying 52 quarterbacks drafted in the first round since 1970 with at least 30 starts in their first four years, I found some circumstances unique only to Stafford as they would have to be to produce such a record. When J.P. Losman (1-16) is the closest comparison in record, you know something unique has taken place.

With our projections showing Detroit facing the sixth-toughest schedule in 2013, expect to hear about this one again, but at least we now know it's not much of a quarterback issue.

Posted by: Scott Kacsmar on 30 Aug 2013

5 comments, Last at 02 Sep 2013, 1:02am by LionInAZ

Comments

1
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 08/30/2013 - 1:43pm

Great article. Too bad it's an Insider Article. I wish most of the rubes, *cough*, I mean, mainstream readers at ESPN.com could see a well-thought out article about how using W-L record alone when evaluating quarterbacks can be so misleading.

2
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 08/30/2013 - 2:44pm

2009: Went 2-8 after being drafted by 0-16 team. 4 games against Stubbleface Vikings, Brees Saints, and the Packers

2010: Went 1-2. Losses were to the Jets and the Bears, who both went to the conference championship game.

2011: Losses to SF, Atl, NO x2, 15-1 GB x2. 5-1 against teams who finished 8-8 -- loss was @Bears.

The real fluke is 2011. Detroit swept the AFC West, but beat no winning teams in doing so. Stafford goes 5-1 against .500 teams, including a playoff team (Broncos). The Lions lost to no team with a losing record that year.

Somehow, Stafford is 1-23 against teams with a winning record, 5-2 against teams with a .500 record, and 11-3 against teams with a losing record.

He'd clean up in the AFC West.

6
by LionInAZ :: Mon, 09/02/2013 - 1:02am

And those two losses in 2010 came after Stafford left both games with injuries and the Lions holding a lead. The loss to the Jets was especially bad with Drew Stanton bumbling away a 10-point lead. Doesn't seem fair to saddle Stafford with those losses.

3
by Theo :: Fri, 08/30/2013 - 3:58pm

I don't have insider but I hope it goes further than 'he just loses' and 'he was clutch'.

As a writer you should just avoid that word (clutch) altogether because it makes all the alarm bells go off.

4
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 08/30/2013 - 5:06pm

Definitely goes further than that. It's too complex to summarize everything but key points are:

1)When compared to the first 4 seasons of other quarterbacks (52 of them) drafted in the first round since 1970, with >30 starts, Stafford has been unlucky in that he has had to face much tougher opponents, record-wise.
2)He has also been unlucky in having a bad defense (ranked 49/52 in points allowed off that list)
3)Related to #2, he puts up a lot of points per game against good teams (ranks 13/52).
4)They make a side note of the fact that in the playoff loss to New Orleans, he had the highest QBR since 2008 in a losing effort, which again, points to issue #2.

The summary is that the poor record is some parts Stafford, but mostly bad luck and a bad defense.