Pass protection is always a primary argument against playing a rookie quarterback right away. Asking him to learn the pro game while running for his life is a sure recipe for failure. (See David Carr’s first season in Houston.)
We can now ask that question as it relates to Detroit and Matthew Stafford, who will be placed on injured reserve this week. His separated left shoulder has not fully healed, and he is also due to have a clean-up procedure to complete repairs on a dislocated left knee cap.
We’ll need to do a fuller analysis during the offseason, but I can’t blame the Lions’ pass protection for either injury. Both came on violent hits from defensive linemen, but the contact came when Stafford extended the play by rolling out of the pocket. Cleveland’s C.J. Mosley caused the shoulder injury while Stafford waited for a Hail Mary pass to develop; Chicago’s Adewale Ogunleye twisted the knee as he ran to his right.
Stafford was sacked 24 times this season, but anecdotally, I can’t say he was running for his life all year. Feel free to offer a dissenting view, but again, we’ll need to look at this more closely during the winter.