The Lions have only given up three sacks so far. In order they were:
- An overload blitz by the Saints bringing 7 rushers, including 5 on the left side where Jonathan Vilma got home. This has to be recognized by Stafford and he has to get rid of the ball or find the check-down (easier said then done though...)
- An inexplicable assignment error by Jeff Backus where he didn't block Jared Allen (I still don't get it...)
- A four-man rush where Ray Edwards beat Gosder Cherilus (this will happen occasionally, but you hope not too often)
So far in 2009 the Lions have allowed an average of 134.5 yards and 0.5 TDs rushing per game. In 2008 the Lions allowed an average of 172.1 yards and nearly two rushing TDs a game (31 total). This isn't much - but it's enough to get them out of the bottom quarter of the league in rush defense.
Matthew Stafford is learning about what he can't do in the NFL. So far he's tried to push the ball too far down field when the defense is playing back which has resulted in 3 INTs (one intended for Calvin Johnson on a post route into bracket coverage with a safety over the top where there had to have been a better option underneath, one intended for CJ along the seam into zone coverage that rotated towards CJ, and one intended for Brandon Pettigrew where the LBs were deep trying to keep from giving up the big play), and he thrown the ball back across his body once. His fifth INT was the one pass that either sailed on him or was a communication issue on the receiver's route (likely the latter because there were two Lions receivers who ended up in the same area short of the pass).
None of these INTs were rookie mistakes where he was baited into throwing a ball or really mis-read a defense - they were all cases where he was trying to make a play. Because he understands what's gone wrong he's learning to trust what he sees on the field and he should be able to make the necessary adjustments. With that will come confidence and hopefully better play - but for now at least you can see his football intelligence in how he plays the game...