| Detroit Free Press
Matt Patricia’s plan to improve the Detroit Lions’ consistency
Lions coach Matt Patricia, fresh off the bye, discusses plan to improve consistency of performance, starting against Jaguars. Filmed Oct. 14, 2020.
Matthew Stafford has put up some astounding passing numbers in his career.
He threw for 5,000 yards as a 23-year-old. He topped 500 yards in a single game. And his 727 pass attempts in 2012 still ranks as the most in NFL history.
But for all his accomplishments, one thing Stafford never has done is throw a touchdown pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team he and the Detroit Lions face Sunday when they return from their bye.
“I did not know that,” Stafford said Wednesday. “That needs to happen, for sure.”
The Lions and Jaguars have played just twice during Stafford’s 12-year career, with the Lions winning and Stafford playing well in both games.
In 2012, Stafford threw for 285 yards in an easy 31-14 victory, but the Lions scored all four of their touchdowns on the ground, three of them by Mikel Leshoure.
In 2016, the Lions beat the Jaguars, 26-19, in a game in which they scored defensive and special teams touchdowns. Stafford threw for 278 yards, and Eric Ebron accounted for the lone offensive touchdown with a 1-yard run.
“Calvin (Johnson) had (129 yards receiving) the one week,” Stafford recalled. “He couldn’t practice and he could only turn right. That was when we played at their place. He had a bad knee and he could only turn right. And then the other game was at home, I think we had 21 rushes for 14 yards or something like that. (Blake) Bortles kind of turned it over a couple times to us.”
In the 2012 game, Stafford came inches away from throwing a touchdown pass to Johnson, when Jacksonville safety Chris Prosinski hauled Johnson down inside the 1-yard line after a 38-yard gain.
He took two more shots at the end zone in the fourth quarter, but overthrew passes to Johnson and Titus Young.
In 2016, Stafford threw his fourth-longest pass of the season, 61 yards, against the Jaguars, but Ebron was pushed out of bounds at the 8-yard line on the play.
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone, who has coached against Stafford once, as head coach of the Buffalo Bills in 2014 — Stafford threw for 231 yards and a touchdown in that game, a 17-14 loss when then-Bills defensive coordinator (and ex-Lions head coach) Jim Schwartz was carried off the field in celebration — said Wednesday he’s “always had a ton of respect” for Stafford’s ability.
“I haven’t (gone) against Detroit much in my career, but I know he can throw it all over,” Marrone said. “We’ve got to be prepared for anything because Matthew can get hot.”
In four games this year, Stafford has thrown for 1,017 yards with eight touchdowns, but he’s completing just 60.6% of his passes and has thrown three costly interceptions.
Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said earlier this week that Stafford’s footwork has gone astray at times this season, and Stafford agreed with that assessment Wednesday, saying it’s something he needs to be more cognizant of going forward.
As for his lack of individual success against the Jaguars, if Stafford fails to throw a touchdown pass Sunday, he might have to wait another four years to play Jacksonville.
The NFL is expected to move to a 17-game regular season next year, but the league’s scheduling formula has always called for NFC and AFC opponents to play every four years.
“Yeah, I mean, I need to make that happen,” Stafford said. “Sorry for going back into the archives there, but yeah, it’d be great. I’d love to have that on the tombstone one day or something.”
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