In early November, after the Detroit Lions dumped their offensive coordinator, general manager, and team president, I wrote that people using those events as an opportunity to suggest that the team would be better off without Matt Stafford were wrong.
Those moves seemed to spark new life into the scuffling Lions, and while they remain out of the playoff picture for 2015, there are some signs that this won’t be an entirely wasted season.
According to data recently posted at FiveThirtyEight,* Stafford is among the most improved quarterbacks in the season’s second half:
Stafford accomplished this without a corresponding increase in throws to top receiver Calvin Johnson, which is evidence that OC Jim Bob Cooter’s new offensive scheme is about more than looking out for no. (8)1. Stafford’s improved numbers also could reflect a positive regression to his true talent level, as well as signal indirect improvement in the team’s offensive line. (On that front, the numbers are a bit mixed, showing minor decreases in sack rate and yards lost due to sacks, while fumbles lost held steady, and fumbles increased in the second half of the season.)
2015 obviously has not been the best season for Stafford or the Lions, but the team would be foolish to part ways with their starting quarterback. A better second half from the former top overall draft pick should help to ensure that he stays in Detroit.