Quarterback Matthew Stafford is playing some of the best football of his career this season. He's playing so well, in fact, that he'd likely be in the MVP conversation if the Lions weren't 3-4-1 on the year and towards the bottom of the NFC standings.
Stafford ranks in the top 10 in every statistical passing category among quarterbacks. The most important of those being fifth in passer rating (106.0), fourth in passing yards (2,499), fourth in average yards per attempt (8.6) and second in touchdown passes (19).
Last week's 406-yard, three-touchdown performance was his fourth game this season with at least 300 passing yards and two touchdowns, the most through eight games played in franchise history. He leads the NFL in passing yards (1,112) and touchdowns (10) over the last three weeks.
"I think our guys are doing a good job getting behind people and winning downfield, which is giving me confidence to let it loose to them," Stafford said Wednesday. "Obviously, when the ball is in the air, they're doing a good job making plays.
"Bev (OC Darrell Bevell) is doing a great job of scheming it up, we're getting some guys with a step or two on deep defenders and able to connect."
Bevell's offense is a perfect fit for Stafford's skill set. He's on pace for 4,998 yards and 38 touchdowns, which would rival his 2011 season – the best season of his career to date – when he threw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns.
The big difference this year is Stafford has just five interceptions halfway through the season and is averaging 8.6 yards per attempt. In 2011, he threw 16 interceptions in 16 games and had a 7.6 average per attempt.
Stafford is pushing the ball down the field more than he ever has, and is more efficient than he's ever been doing it. His 41 completions of 20-plus yards leads the NFL.
Stafford's been good, now the Lions just need the run game and the defense to catch up the second half of the season.
Punter Sam Martin came out of Sunday's game in Oakland with a sore abdomen, which forced him to sit out Wednesday's practice.
The Lions work on kick and punt coverage on Wednesdays, so the team signed punter Matt Wile to their practice squad this morning to help them with practice and be available if Martin's injury lingers.
"Thought it would be a good idea to give him a little bit of rest, while we just take a look at him," Patricia said of Martin. "One of the things we work on today that's really important is our coverage units against the return game. (The Bears) have a phenomenal return game. They have great players – (Tarik) Cohen in the punt return and then (Cordarrelle) Patterson in the kickoff return.
"So, we needed some live kicks. We had the practice squad spot available to us, so thought it was a good opportunity to get live kicks so we could work on kind of the timing of that stuff here today outside kind of in the environment and all that."
Wile comes to Detroit after appearing in two games for the Atlanta Falcons this season, punting six times for 290 yards (48.3 avg., 44.7 net). He originally signed with Carolina as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Michigan in 2016. Wile has appeared in 22 career games for Atlanta, Minnesota and Arizona over his career, with an average of 45.5 and net average of 41.4.
Martin currently ranks 26th in the NFL in punting average (43.8) and 25th in net punting (40.5).
LIONS ADD TO RB ROOM
Scarbrough most recently spent the preseason with Seattle. He adds a different element to Detroit's running back group with his size (6-1, 235) and athletic traits. He recorded a 40-inch vertical jump at the 2018 Combine and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds.
He was originally drafted by Dallas in the seventh round (236th overall) in 2018 out of Alabama. He spent his rookie season on the Cowboys' and Jacksonville Jaguars' practice squads, as well as the Seahawks' active roster.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019.
- Currently only 25 percent of their pass rushes are won by Lions players through eight games, according to ESPN stats. That's last in the NFL by a wide margin. Detroit's overall pass rush is graded 29th by Pro Football Focus. A lack of consistent pressure is having a trickle-down effect to the entire defense.