Matthew Stafford doing the vast majority of his damage on underneath routes

Posted Sep 18, 2013

Of Matthew Stafford's 635 passing yards this season, 87 percent have come on throws that traveled less than 10 yards through the air

The Detroit Lions motto on offense under offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has always been to take what the defense gives them.

"We’re doing what the defense dictates," quarterback Matthew Stafford said Tuesday.

"We played Minnesota in Week 1 and they were dropping guys as deep as you’ve ever seen them in a game. Just trying to stay over the top and forcing us to take the underneath stuff."

And that’s exactly what Stafford and Co. have continued doing through the first two weeks of the season. The Lions have the league’s seventh-ranked passing attack, averaging 315 yards per game, but the vast majority of it has been with underneath routes.

Stafford is 52-of-72 passing (65.8 percent) for 635 yards with four touchdowns and one interception on the season. He’s one of only six quarterbacks with a passer rating above 100 (102.).

But the vast majority of that has been with the short passing game behind the line of scrimmage and inside 10 yards.

In fact, Stafford has completed 13 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown with a passer rating of 108.0 on passes thrown behind the line of scrimmage.

On passes thrown 1-10 yards, he is 35 for 45 for 360 yards with three touchdowns and his passer rating is a robust 122.2.

That means 87 percent of Stafford's passing yards this season have come on throws of less than 10 yards through the air.

"This team we played last week (Arizona) had a lot of help over the top with (Calvin Johnson) and had a safety leaning his way," Stafford said. "Took some shots, didn’t hit them, but we’re just trying to do whatever the defense is letting us do. If they’re going to play deep, we’re going to take it underneath, catch and run and make good plays that way."

The Lions rank second in the NFL in yards after catch (YAC) with 442 through two games.

That includes a 77-yard screen to Reggie Bush Week 1 and 72-yard pitch-and-catch to Johnson against Arizona. Those just so happen to be the two longest plays from scrimmage for the Lions this season.

Bush has given this offense an element it hasn’t had since Jahvid Best and they’ll be just fine continuing to exploit it if teams allow them to.