Jim Schwartz: Stafford not to blame for Lions' collapse


Matthew Stafford's 13 interceptions in the second half of last season equal Colin Kaepernick's career total. After five years in the NFL, Stafford owns a 2-27 record against teams with winning records.

It's no wonder the Detroit Lions' unofficial slogan for 2014 is "fix the quarterback."

With the offseason underway, Around The League explores what's next for all 32 teams.

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Although Stafford came under fire in the Motor City late in 2013, former coach Jim Schwartz refuses to stick the signal-caller with the blame for the team's December collapse and his own firing.

"We were 2-6 over the last half of last season, and when you're 2-6 nobody is feeling good about their performance, whether you're the head coach, the quarterback or a defensive lineman," Schwartz said Tuesday on WGFX-FM, via ESPN.com. "But it's a team game and I wouldn't pin it on one Matt Stafford. Matt's an outstanding quarterback."

For all of Stafford's fundamental flaws, he has joined Drew Brees as the only players in NFL history to pass for 4,500 yards in three consecutive seasons.

"He's going to lead that team to many great things in the future," Schwartz continued. "Everybody has some rough spots here and there, and it's up to the rest of the team to pick you up."

That's a fair point. Stafford's receivers dropped 46 passes in 2013 -- 12 more than the next closest team.

Stafford needs more help, specifically behind Calvin Johnson at wide receiver.

As Schwartz points out, though, that's going to be a challenge. No franchise will have a greater percentage of the salary cap tied up in three players than the Lions will with Stafford, Johnson and Ndamukong Suh -- after the defensive tackle signs a lucrative contract extension.

Currently sitting $6 million over the cap, the Lions will have trouble solving the depth issues that torpedoed their offense down the stretch in 2013.

On the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys talk Michael Sam, potential big-name cap casualties and offseason forecasts for the Steelers and Jaguars.