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Matthew Stafford defends much-criticized mechanics

  • By Kevin Patra NFL.com
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Matthew Stafford shouldered the blame for the Detroit Lions' 38-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, and he's now defending his much-critiqued mechanics.

Stafford told WXYT-FM on Tuesday that he is "very comfortable" with his mechanics and doesn't feel like he's overusing a sidearm or three-quarter delivery.

"I really don't feel like it's too much different, to tell you the truth" he said, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. "I'm just trying to make the plays that are there. ... I feel like I probably threw two balls sidearm [Sunday] and I think both of them were complete. If that's a problem, then I don't really know what to tell you."

Part of the problem we have with the discussion about Stafford's mechanics is its focus on the playground-style arm angles he uses, while the bigger issue remains his footwork.

Stafford struggles to move well in the pocket, even when he has time, often failing to move up in the pocket and step into a throw. Instead, he relies on his arm strength and far too often throws off his back foot. (Lions fans will automatically blame the offensive line, but Jay Cutler would kill for the kind of protection Stafford gets.)

Stafford's increased use of sidearm throws comes under focus because some passes tend to sail on him, as analysts have pointed out. Another problem with the technique is that it serves as a cover for his lazy footwork. He often defaults to an exotic arm angle instead of moving his feet to create a throwing lane.

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Stafford is not the biggest problem on a disappointing Lions team, but he hasn't taken that next step in becoming a top-echelon NFL quarterback. He makes too many mental mistakes, takes too many sacks at the worst times -- i.e. on Thanksgiving when he took sacks in back-to-back series to push the Lions out of field-goal range late in a tight game.

Stafford is the best quarterback the Lions have had in generations, he has incredible talent -- and yes, Lions fans, way too many drops by receivers have contributed to his up-and-down season. But some of the critiques of his mechanics are legitimate, even if Stafford doesn't want to admit it.

Follow Kevin Patra on Twitter @kpatra.

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