Matthew Stafford’s play has been under much scrutiny in each of the Lions three losses this season but he is the target of additional criticism after the Detroit Lions 37-13 loss to the Chicago Bears.
The criticism is understandable considering Stafford’s four interceptions were critical in the defeat -- especially since two of them resulted in defensive touchdowns, putting the game out of reach.
Stafford wore gloves on both of his hands for the first time in his professional career, fueling tremendous speculation that the gloves were the catalyst to his poor performance.
It’s easy to make the connection between the poor play and the glove on Stafford’s throwing hand, but despite the convenience of the cameras and the repeated references of the gloves during the television broadcast, they were not the issue.
Stafford practiced wearing the gloves throughout the week (due to a finger injury) for the Lions and had no issues tossing the ball in practice.
“Obviously he had the glove on; there was a splint on his finger, on the very tip of his finger, and it was just so he had a good grip on the ball,” said head coach Jim Schwartz. “But he threw the ball very well last Thursday and Friday. Wednesday he had a different glove on. He was trying that one on and it was a little too sticky. But as we got later in the week, he was very, very sharp with his passes.”
The Lions spent the week practicing indoors, where Stafford had success throwing the ball.
A bigger factor working against the quarterback may have been the blustery winds in Chicago.
“I think the issue in this game was the wind -- and the wind affected both quarterbacks about equally,” said Schwartz.
Stafford is currently completing 59.7 percent of his passes while Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is completing 58 percent of his. In this contest, Stafford completed 52% of his throws (33-for-63), while Cutler completed 47% of his own (9-for-19).
It is clear that the windy conditions at Soldier Field were not conducive to prolific passing totals. The difference was, the Bears avoided bad decisions and turnovers as well, and didn't put themselves in a position where throwing the ball frequently was necessary.
Stafford had 63 tosses as the Lions were not able to establish a healthy balance on offense, and he did made some poor decisions – some that were not influenced by the glove he was wearing, which ultimately cost the team.
Stafford does deserve blame for the loss, as does the coaching staff for throwing as frequently as they did in gusty conditions, decisions precipitated by another blame candidate: two early fumbles that put the Lions in a first-quarter hole.
Just don't blame the gloves.