The Battle of the Jims has distracted everybody from a pair of pressing issues after yesterday’s game. One of them was brought to light today when the Lions acknowledged that RB Jahvid Best sustained a concussion when he was dragged down from behind and hit his head on the turf. Best never returned to the game and was replaced by Maurice Morris for the remainder of the game. This is Best’s second concussion of the season, and fourth in the last three years.
While the Best injury is out in the open, I have a sneaking suspicion that there is an even more important injury that remains under wraps. I am not reporting anything here, this is speculation, but I believe Matthew Stafford has some sort of arm injury. I went back and re-watched parts of the second half and a few things stood out to me.
- Stafford was sacked and hit a few times in mid way through the 3rd quarter including a paly where he fumbled the ball.
- The 49ers repeatedly single covered Calvin Johnson, which is almost always met with an audible to a deep route. The Lions didn’t challenge the single coverage deep for a quarter and a half.
- The 49ers started blitzing more and playing man coverage, which the Lions usually pick apart. San Francisco did not appear to even care about being deep, which makes me suspect they thought something was up too.
- Stafford threw almost every pass in the second half of the 3rd quarter and all of the 4th quarter side armed.
- Stafford did not attempt a pass more than 15 yards downfield after those couple of hits in the 3rd quarter.
- When the Lions got the ball back with a little over a minute to go and the game on the line, they didn’t even attempt to push the ball downfield, despite Stafford’s strong arm and Calvin Johnson’s ability.
- The team lacked any sense of urgency on the final drive, almost as if they knew they couldn’t come back.
- Instead of a Hail Mary that could create a pass interference call, the Lions ran the old short throw lateral play.
None of this means Stafford is hurt, but there were a lot of things that just didn’t stack up in the 3rd and 4th quarters. We’ve seen Stafford challenge single coverage and we’ve seen the willingness to take shots downfield. However, in a close game with an offense built around an explosive passing game, the Lions did not even attempt a deep throw. Lastly, Jim Schwartz lost plenty of close games last year and he’s had to shake hands with some arrogant coaches, Sean Payton, Rex Ryan and Brad Childress to name a few. But yesterday he snapped. Losing a tough game, your starting running back and an injury to your starting quarterback would be enough to bring a promising season down to Earth. I know I’d have a shorter fuse than usual in that situation.
Again, there are a few things that stood out to me as unusual in yesterday’s game and there isn’t any solid evidence to support an injury to Stafford. I certainly hope he’s fine, just like every Lions fan does, only time will tell.