Lions playoff hopes dead after loss to Bears, team continues to mishandle Matthew Stafford injury situation. What’s the future? Filmed Nov. 10, 2019.
Dave Birkett and Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press
The NFL is looking into whether the Detroit Lions violated league protocol by listing quarterback Matthew Stafford as questionable on last week’s injury report, a league source told the Free Press.
Stafford practiced on a limited basis all of last week, but Lions coach Matt Patricia, general manager Bob Quinn and several players offered varying timelines of when they were told Stafford would not play in Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.
Patricia and Quinn said the decision to sit Stafford was made Sunday morning, with Quinn specifying that it came after arriving at the stadium. Several players, however, said Patricia informed them of the decision “earlier in the day” Saturday.
A review is “standard” in situations like this, the source said.
“We didn’t find out what exactly the problem was until yesterday,” Lions tight end Logan Thomas said after the game. “He’s a competitor, he’s a warrior, he wanted to be out there. Just praying for him to be healthy first.”
Asked if Stafford told the team about his situation, Thomas said, “No, Patricia handled all that.”
“It was yesterday, earlier in the day,” Thomas said. “But I mean, didn’t change anything about who we are or what we had to come do.”
Stafford reportedly suffered fractured bones in his back when he was hit while scrambling late in a Week 9 loss to the Oakland Raiders.
Stafford downplayed the injury last week, when he said he expected to play against the Bears, and he took a regular complement of first-team reps during practice.
ESPN reported that the Lions sent Stafford for further testing after Friday’s practice, but Patricia said Sunday those tests were “scheduled out through the course of the week just to make sure that we were doing everything from a protocol standpoint that we thought was best to evaluate it.”
“I’m not going to get into too many specifics, but the biggest thing was he truly was limited, he truly participated, truly limited and went through the week and we were hoping by the time we got to today we’d be able to do it,” Patricia said. “And, unfortunately like I said, it wasn’t safe to put him in that situation. So the information that we got, talking with the doctors, it wasn’t the right thing to do.”
Patricia said Sunday was “the day we decided it wasn’t safe,” though he was not specific when asked what changed from Stafford’s diagnosis earlier in the week.
“Just meeting with the doctors and having that kind of consultation with them one more time and just deciding, that’s not a good thing to do,” Patricia said. “Cause he wanted to play.”
NFL policy requires teams to update game-day designations “if, prior to the team’s arrival at the stadium on game day, an event occurs (e.g., a player workout, disciplinary matter, illness or family issue) that causes the club to decide that a player will not start or will not play, the club must update its Game Status Report.”
Teams violating the policy are subject to potential fines
Patricia said Stafford is “week to week” with his injury. Jeff Driskel started Sunday in Stafford’s place and the Lions lost Sunday, 20-13.