Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is so talented, yet he hasn’t been able to refine his skills to where they should be 70 starts into his career. This might make him frustrating to watch at times, but boy does he have the ability to pull a rabbit out of a hat and steal victories at the end of games.
On Sunday against Miami, Stafford led the Lions to their third straight 4th quarter come-from-behind victory. He’s had a knack for doing this all throughout his career, including some memorable comeback wins over the Cowboys and a last second win versus the Browns when he threw the game winning touchdown one play after dislocating his shoulder.
The attributes that make Stafford unable to get to the next level as a passer (inconsistent arm angle, throwing from off-balanced positions, attempting risky throws) make him great in the final moments of a game. Stafford is able to throw from any arm angle whether on the run or under duress in the pocket. He can make throws when the play breaks down because of his arm strength. All areas of the field are available to him, and he can fit passes into extremely tiny windows, which is something you need to be able to do when teams are doing everything they can to stop the pass at the end of a game. These are all skills that are unreliable for an offense for a full 60 minutes, but the unpredictability of this style of play makes the quarterbacks who possess these skills a nightmare for defenses to stop on any one play or drive.
The luxury quarterbacking attributes are there for Stafford. He’s still searching for the necessity skills – accuracy, footwork in the pocket, managing situations. If Stafford can get closer to refining this part of his game, he has a chance to become a great quarterback.