Twentyman: Stafford trying to be more patient

Posted Dec 13, 2012

The quarterback is heralded when a team is doing well and criticized when it's not. For Stafford, if there is one criticism that could have some merit, though, it is that he could be more patient from time-to-time.

There is a lot of criticism going around of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.

It's somewhat to be expected for the starting quarterback of a 4-9 football team.

"I don't really pay much attention to it," Stafford said this week. "You win games, everyone wants to talk about how good you are. You lose games, everybody wants to talk about how bad you are.

"I understand that. That's the nature of the beast. That's what we do for a living."

The thing people should keep in mind, though, is that Stafford is closer to the solution for the Lions than the problem.

If there's one criticism that could have some merit, though, it is that Stafford could be more patient from time-to-time.

"We have the motto of aggressively taking what the defense gives us," Stafford said. "I mean if they are going to give you the underneath stuff you have to keep taking it, but I don't want to miss a chance at a big one."

The Lions have seen such a significant number of two-deep safety looks this season that the "big one" hasn't been there as often as Stafford might like. It certainly hasn't been there as much as it was last year when Stafford threw 41 touchdowns.

Stafford's mentality isn't unlike any other guy who plays the position, especially one with as big an arm as his. He's at his best when he's throwing the ball down the field, and he knows it.

But sometimes, a quarterback has to dink and dunk a defense to death before they wise up and realize that can be just as detrimental as allowing the big play over the top.

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is good at it. So is the Patriots' Tom Brady.

Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said that's one thing he continues to remind the 24-year-old Stafford.

"He's got a deep-to-short mentality as a quarterback," Linehan said. "He's looking for that big play and the one thing you saw him do, and have seen him do, over the years is he went from being a deep-to-intermediate quarterback to attacking all parts of the field.

"I think those are things that, when you've got an aggressive guy like him, you just keep reminding him."

Linehan said it's easy for Stafford to try and always look for the big play with a receiver like Calvin Johnson.

But Stafford has shown patience in driving the team down the field at times this season. The first 13-play, 72-yard drive of the season is a perfect example. Stafford was 6-for-7 on the drive having completed only two passes for more than 10 yards, before he got greedy at the goal line and made a bad throw that was intercepted.

"You just have to be disciplined enough to not pull the trigger when it's not there," Stafford said Thursday.

He engineered two touchdown drives in Green Bay Sunday on the team's first two possessions where he took exactly what the Packers' defense was giving him, made all the right reads, stayed patient and moved the ball down the field.

"Again he's just in early parts of his career," Linehan said. "If you look at all these guys who've played over the years, his development is right on track."

Stafford is only going to get better and more patient the older he gets. Let's not forget he's 24.