Allen Park — After holding out hope he could return this season, the Detroit Lions finally conceded quarterback Matthew Stafford won't be healthy enough to play again in 2019, placing him on injured reserve on Tuesday.
"We had a schedule that we were trying to follow, from the advice of our doctors and the medical (staff), the people that look at everything, and at this point it looks like it would really be in the best interest for him, and obviously as an organization, to give him that opportunity to rest and to heal," Lions coach Matt Patricia said.
Stafford has been out of action since early November with a back injury, reported to be microfractures in the thoracic region of his spine. Prior to the injury, he had started 136 consecutive games, the sixth-longest streak for a quarterback in NFL history.
In eight games, Stafford had arguably been playing the best football of his career, with personal bests in passer rating and yards per attempt, while threatening his yardage and touchdown totals from his 2011 season, when he topped 5,000 yards and threw for 41 scores.
"The time that he put in here with the offense and being able to learn it, to be diligent about it, I think he was really in a good spot," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "We were doing a nice job together. I can’t emphasis how much I appreciate the work that he did, just in terms of learning the new stuff, picking it up, teaching it to teammates and then unfortunately he went down this year."
Even after the injury, Bevell said Stafford has continued to work hard to help the team.
"He really hasn’t missed a beat," Bevell said. "He’s been in every meeting, he’s still working behind the scenes, he’s working with the young quarterbacks trying to be that veteran presence to really help those guys out. It’s been a hard year for him, but a special year for us together."
He finishes the year having completed 64.3 percent of his passes for 2,499 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions.