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The numbers behind the Lions’ short passing game

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford seems to be stuck in the worst stretch of football of his career heading into the final week of the season in Green Bay next Sunday.

Stafford has played through a bad back that’s kept him limited for a few games now. He’s also without his top two receivers (Marvin Jones Jr. & Golden Tate), his top running back (Kerryon Johnson) and his top tight end (Michael Roberts).

It’s turned the gun-slinging quarterback into a quick, short and controlled passer, for the most part.

Stafford has now gone six consecutive games without throwing for multiple touchdowns. That’s happened one other time in his career – to begin the 2012 season. The big difference between the two streaks, however, is that Stafford was still pushing the ball down the field and racking up passing yards in 2012. During that six-game stretch to begin the 2012 season, he threw for 1,756 yards for an average of 292.7 per game. Detroit scored at least 26 points in half of those games.

Over his current six-game streak, he’s thrown for just 1,126 yards, or 187.7 per game. Detroit’s scored more than 17 points just once.

Detroit now has a streak of scoring 17 points or less in five straight games. That’s the most in the Stafford era. There was a streak of four games in 2015.

“Yeah, we’ve got to do a better job of it, there’s no question,” Stafford said after Sunday’s 27-9 loss to Minnesota. “Just got to execute better. I got to give guys chances, got to hit them and get it in the end zone when we can.

“I think you look at each game as different, that’s part of the frustrating part you know. It’s not one thing, you say, ‘OK, let’s just go fix that and we’ll be fine.’ It’s tough to win games in the National Football League and for one reason or another, execution and playmaking we haven’t done enough of.”

This offense is simply a shell of what it’s been in the past with Stafford under center. Detroit doesn’t rank better than 23rd in any major statistical category on offense. The 19 touchdown passes on the year for Stafford are the fewest since he finished 2012 with 20.

Fixing what’s been ailing this offense should be a big priority this offseason.

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