Lions' Matthew Stafford experiments with glove setups
Allen Park — Three days after injuring the middle finger on his throwing hand, Matthew Stafford said it feels about the same, but the Detroit Lions quarterback intends to take every snap during the week of practice leading up to the team’s game against the New York Giants.
On Wednesday, Stafford sported a custom Nike glove covering only his middle finger. Compared to a traditional glove, it offers the quarterback’s healthy digits a more natural feel when he grips the ball. He said he intends to explore multiple options during the week and wouldn’t rule out the possibility of playing without a glove this Sunday.
Another factor could be the game conditions. Temperatures are expected to be well above freezing, but there’s a strong possibility of inclement conditions.
“I’m going to figure out what’s best for me and this team and going forward,” he said. “Whether it’s a glove or not, I’m still working on it. Whatever I end up doing in the game won’t be a guess, it will be something I’ve been working on.”
Wearing a glove has nothing to do with protecting Stafford’s finger, which he injured toward the end of the first quarter against the Chicago Bears. It’s about functionality, giving the quarterback better grip where sensation has temporarily been dulled or lost on his injured finger.
In the heat of the moment, the Lions training staff had to improvise. At first, Stafford put gloves on both hands. He also tried two different gloves on his throwing hand. At no point did he ever seem entirely comfortable with the setup.
After suffering the injury, Stafford wasn’t sharp against the Bears. He completed 9 of 20 passes for 90 yards. He also tossed two interceptions for the first time since Week 4. The Lions also ran the ball more than they typically have in the second half of that game, but he said the play-calling wasn’t dictated by the finger.
The Giants aren’t altering their game plan for the injury, but are prepared to adjust if Stafford appears to be struggling.
“He’s been around the block,” Giants coach Ben McAdoo said. “He’s a heck of a quarterback, he can spin the ball, he knows where to go with the ball, he throws with great anticipation. He can get it out of his hand quickly, and you prepare for him to be at his best and react to anything else you see.”
A significant component of Detroit’s success this season has been Stafford’s ability to protect the ball. He entered last weekend having thrown five interceptions through 12 games, before he was picked off twice in the second half against Chicago.
Asked if he felt he would have thrown those interceptions with a healthy finger, Stafford said neither pass was a bad decision.
“I wasn’t really disappointed with either of those decisions, just execution,” he said. “Really, the one to Golden (Tate) is six inches off from being a touchdown. The one to Anquan (Boldin) I’d love to have back, didn’t throw that ball as well as I can.”
After the game, Stafford admitted that his velocity and accuracy were impacted. That’s important given how small the windows tend to be in the NFL. Beyond the interceptions, Stafford had eight passes broken up or batted down at the line of scrimmage.
That could be problematic against an opportunistic Giants secondary. The team ranks seventh with 13 interceptions and has three players — Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Landon Collins — in the top 12 in passes defended.