The good: While Matthew Stafford’s passing numbers were down this past season, his completion percentage of 66.1 percent was his highest since 2015. His 11 interceptions and 2.0 interception percentage were the third lowest of his career in a full season. The Lions set a franchise record by not committing a turnover in seven games this season.
The decline in Stafford’s passing yards shouldn’t be that surprising considering Detroit’s dedication to improving their rushing totals. Their 1,660 rushing yards this season are the most since 2012. Stafford also lost his two leading receivers the second half of the season -- Golden Tate via trade and Marvin Jones Jr. because of a knee injury.
2018 Photos: Quarterbacks
View photos of the Detroit Lions' 2018 quarterbacks.
The bad: Stafford has a big arm and has never been afraid to cut it loose trying to make plays down the field. In fact, he led the NFL in 2017 with 16 pass plays of 40-plus yards. He was third with 61 plays of 20-plus yards. Both numbers were down considerably in 2018. Stafford had just six plays of 40-plus yards and 44 of 20-plus yards. The Lions used a short and controlled passing game in 2018, which doesn’t seem to take the most advantage of Stafford’s skillset.
Another area where Stafford’s been historically good has been in the fourth quarter. His 89.9 passer rating in the fourth quarter ranked 22nd this past season, and he had critical turnovers late in losses to Seattle, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Key stat: Stafford’s thrown for at least 20 touchdowns in eight straight seasons. He’s the seventh quarterback in NFL history to produce 3,500-plus passing yards and 20 touchdowns in eight consecutive seasons.
Free agency: Stafford is currently the only quarterback under contract for the 2019 season.
Backup Matt Cassel, 36, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins in March.
Jake Rudock, who spent the year on Detroit’s practice squad, signed a futures contract with the Miami Dolphins this offseason.
Draft: GM Bob Quinn has stated in the past that it’s good business to draft and develop a quarterback at least every other season. The Lions didn’t draft one last year. If Quinn does look to add a young quarterback to develop, he could potentially look to do so in the middle or late rounds.
Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), Drew Lock (Missouri) and Kyler Murray (Oklahoma) could be first-round picks.
Daniel Jones (Duke), Will Grier (West Virginia) and Ryan Finley (NC State) are ranked by most draft analysts to be in that next tier.
Some other quarterbacks who’ll likely hear their names called at some point in the draft are: Jarrett Stidham (Auburn), Jake Bentley (South Carolina), Clayton Thorson (Northwestern), Nate Stanley (Iowa), Gardner Minshew (Washington State), Trace McSorley (Penn State), Brett Rypien (Boise State), Tyree Jackson (Buffalo) and Easton Stick (North Dakota State).
Quotable: “I understand the outside perception,” Quinn said of Stafford after the year. “What I know on the inside is, working with this quarterback every day, seeing his car in the parking lot, early in the morning, late at night. I know what he does when he goes home, he puts the girls to bed and he works. I see that every day. I see what he does to get his body ready to play football. I see what he does on the practice field.
“When you live in this building, and you live with this guy, there’s things that go very unnoticed with him that are very, very valuable.”