An observation that’s been made by @3rdRGR (I believe) many times in the endless “let’s get rid of Stafford” threads over several years and boards has stuck with me. That observation is that Matt has never had an average defense and an average rushing attack at the same time.
That inspired me to actually run the numbers.
Since 2010, the Lions have only had a top-half defense (ranked 16 or better in points allowed) in 3 seasons. Not surprisingly, they’ve only made the playoffs 3 times.
They’ve never had a rushing attack ranked 16 or better. In fact, over that decade, the Lions rushing attack has averaged 26th in the league.
In the years that the Lions have not gone to the playoffs, their defense has an average rank of 21 and the rushing offense has an average rank of 24th.
How does that compare with playoff teams?
Over the last 10 years, 92% of playoff teams (110*/120) have had either a top half defense or a top half rushing attack. 57% (68/120) have had both a top-half rushing and defense.
Of the teams qualifying for the playoffs, 71% (85/120) have had a defense or rushing offense in the top 25% of the league (ranked 8 or better).
*One of the 10 teams getting to the playoffs without a top-half defense or rushing attack is the 2011 Detroit Lions
Teams playing in the divisional round show these same trends.
Since 2010, 93% of teams playing in the divisional round (71/76) have at least a top-half rushing attack or scoring defense. Most - 70% (53/76) - have either a top-quartile rushing offense or defense.
Almost two-thirds (63%) of the divisional round teams have both a top-half ground attack and defense. A healthy chunk (28%) have both a defense and running game that’s in the top 25% of the league.
Conference Championship Teams
94% (32 of 34) have top-half defense or rushing
74% (25 of 34) have top 25% defense or rushing
68% (23 of 34) have top-half defense and rushing
41% (14 of 34) have top 25% defense and rushing
- Stafford has had essentially zero support in his years with the Lions
- The idea that other quarterbacks get to the playoffs and succeed without any defensive or rushing support is a myth
- Quarterbacks that succeed in the playoffs need at least one or the other of a really good defense or running game. Preferably both.