Everything was humming along nicely for Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions last season until early in the Lions' 13th game of the season at home vs. Chicago. That's when Stafford suffered an injury to the top of the middle finger on his throwing hand.
The injury forced him to wear a splint and a modified glove the rest of the season, and though Stafford never complained about it once or used the injury as an excuse for his play, the statistics pre- and post-injury tell a tale.
View photos of the Detroit Lions offense in the weight room at the start of the offseason workout program.
Before his finger injury, Stafford had completed 67.2 percent of his passes and thrown 21 touchdown passes and five interceptions. The Lions were 8-4.
After his finger injury, Stafford completed 60.2 percent of his passes and threw three touchdown passes and five interceptions, as the Lions finished the regular season 1-3.
It should be noted that three of those last four games were also against playoff teams – New York Giants, Dallas and Green Bay.
It wasn't much better for Stafford in Detroit's playoff loss in Seattle. He was 18-of-32 passing for 205 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
How much the finger really affected Stafford at the end of last year, only he knows for sure. But the injury is in Stafford's rearview mirror. The Lions returned to Allen Park this week to begin their offseason training program, and Stafford says his finger is healed and ready to go for the 2017 season.
"It just needed rest," Stafford told reporters Tuesday. "No surgery or procedure or anything like that. It feels good. Threw a little today. It feels fine.
"I've been throwing for probably a month, month and a half now. It took until after the Super Bowl until it started feeling better."
Now that his finger issue is in the past, the focus shifts to Stafford's future.
He is entering the final year of his contract, and was asked Tuesday about the possibility of a new contract being signed before the season.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn told season tickets members at an event last week that he and Stafford's representation have started initial talks on a contract extension.
Stafford said he is simply focused on getting back to work and is leaving the business side of football up to his agent, but did express his interest in being in Detroit long-term.
"I would love to," he said. "I've had a really good time being here. Would like to be here long-term. But that's yet to be seen. I'm under contract for another year and I'll be here trying to lead this team and be as good as we can be."