Stafford's INTs Don't Concern Schwartz

Lions QB Matthew Stafford (getty images)

Matthew Stafford's interception total may not be pretty, but might also not be as ugly as it sounds. Quotes and analysis following Friday's practice from Allen Park ...

Much has been made about Matthew Stafford's penchant for throwing interceptions lately.

Just don't include Stafford, or Lions coach Jim Schwartz, among those concerned.

After Stafford tossed five picks in last weekend's loss to the Seattle Seahawks, many questioned the rookie's decision making, accuracy, affects of his knee injury, confidence and a stable of other concerns about the team's signal caller.

Following Friday's practice, Schwartz didn't seem worried about his young gun-slinger heading into Sunday's divisional road tilt at Minnesota.

"I think the important thing with the interceptions is the quarterback understanding why they were and understanding why they occurred," Schwartz said, agreeing with Stafford's statements earlier in the week that the interceptions didn't -- and should not -- shake the rookie's confidence. "If you can answer why they occurred then you can go a long way to putting them behind you. If you don't realize that, you make the same mistakes again, then that's an issue."

The numbers back him up.

Entering the league with a playmaking mentality -- which has a risk/reward factor greater than many of his peers, Stafford is third in the league in most interceptions with 12. But he also ranks sixth in pass attempts, many times playing from behind and taking additional chances with a significant portion of those throws.

By contrast, Jets' rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez is 25th in most pass attempts, yet is fifth in interceptions with 10.

"Our interceptions mainly have come from third-and-long situations and being behind late in the game where you needed to make chunks," explained Schwartz. "There's a fine line between being aggressive and making a smart play."

Schwartz used Bears veteran QB Jay Cutler as an example. Cutler, whom Stafford has drawn comparisons with due to a similar playmaking nature, threw a career-high five interceptions against San Francisco on Monday.

After that contest, he leads the league with 17 picks.

But not all were indicative of Cutler's play, or even his competence as a quarterback.

"(Jay) Cutler throws an interception on the last play in the end zone. Would you rather him take a sack? Would rather him throw the ball out of bounds? He's got to put the ball in there and hey if it gets intercepted, it gets intercepted, but you've got to at least make a chance to make a play," contended Schwartz. "Those are ones that you want to encourage and you want to say you did the right thing.

"We saw one last night. Cutler threw one where his receiver ran into the official... and he was expecting him to be somewhere and he threw the ball where he would have been. The ball gets picked off. You can't let that affect your next play. You've got to be able to put it behind.

"You need to learn from your mistakes but you can't let the mistakes affect you in a negative way throughout the game."

As for the knee? There's indications that Stafford is proceeding well, but Schwartz remained cautiously optimistic.

"The time we'll evaluate that is on Sunday," he said. "It's one thing to feel good on Wednesday or Thursday or Friday or Saturday morning; it's another thing to feel good during the game on Sunday. That'll be the final determination. It's waiting until then to see if he's getting more comfortable, if he's put it behind him."

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