How durable is Matthew Stafford?

September 13, 2010 by Tom Ferda 

Published in The Detroit Free Press Sept. 14, 2010.

Originally from Detroit, Tom is a Los Angeles based NFL writer. His material has been published in several newspapers and magazines including The New York Daily News, Detroit Free Press, Washington Times and Men’s Book. For inquiries contact him at tom@tomferda.com

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In a short NFL career that includes just 11 games played, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has suffered staffordthree serious injuries.

Assuming like the rest of the world that Stafford will miss time from Sunday’s hit, doing the simple math means the franchise QB has been knocked out for extended periods of time in more than one of every four contests. Not good odds when you’re trying to rebuild a team that has occupied the cellar of its division for too many years to count on the fingers of one hand.

So as Stafford sat on the sidelines at Soldier Field for the entire second half, shoulder wrapped in ice awaiting an MRI this week, we should ask ourselves, where is the problem?

In addition to college quarterbacks being high-risk first-round picks (Joey Harrington, Ryan Leaf and Jamarcus Russell), putting a franchise quarterback behind a questionable offensive line is another reason so many people were strong advocates of drafting/building the defense first as opposed to risking $40 million plus guaranteed dollars on a young arm like Stafford’s.

In Sunday’s game, Jeff Backus became the latest offensive lineman victimized by criticism for allowing his assignment, in this case Julius Peppers, to squash the guy he is paid to protect. But in defense of Backus, linemen are beat every game and the hit from Peppers looked like any other standard sack that these quarterbacks are paid to take.

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady hit the turf most every game while scramblers like Michael Vick take even harder hits throughout their games. The difference is, these guys normally use ice packs on game day as a basic recovery tool.

The hit Stafford took against Cleveland in his coming-out game last season was vicious and we should expect one with that force to create injury. But after his third injury in 11 games, a question of Stafford’s durability may come into play. Stafford is as tough as they come, no doubt, just look at the tape of that Browns game last year, but durability is different than toughness.

Hopefully for the Lions, the frequent occurrences of these significant injuries are nothing but a coincidence and will play themselves out.

If not, are we looking at another “franchise” quarterback spending too much time on the sidelines and leading a team to maybe seven wins over his first three seasons for a ton of guaranteed dollars?

Maybe that Bobby Layne curse IS for real.

Copyright ©2010 Tom Ferda

Contact Tom via email: tom@tomferda.com

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