That changed on Monday, Jan. 17 after Stafford again visited Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. The shoulder was not healing so four days later, Andrews performed the surgery at his institute in Pensacola, Fla.
"Matthew's procedure (AC joint repair) today was very successful," Andrews said in a statement. "It went very well. We now have plenty of time for a full recovery in order for him to get ready for next season. The procedure is the same one that we have successfully performed on a number of NFL quarterbacks.
"Matthew has one of the strongest arms in the league and I am confident that he will be as strong as ever."
The rehabilitation process is expected to take four months, which means Stafford will be ready for training camp in August.
"After Matt hurt his shoulder in the Jets game, he was examined by both our medical staff and Dr. Andrews," said coach Jim Schwartz. "There was a consensus at the time to proceed with a rehabilitation program and not to have surgery.
"Subsequent evaluations toward the end of the season by our staff and Dr. Andrews also confirmed that Matt had been making good progress with his rehab. But after Matt's most recent visit to Dr. Andrews, it was determined by Dr. Andrews that Matt's healing process could be enhanced by undergoing surgery at this time."
Schwartz said Stafford had a choice. He could continue with the rehab or have the surgery. Stafford decided to take no chances.
"Matt decided to have the surgery now in order to ensure that he will have plenty of time to recover and rehab prior to the 2011 season," Schwartz said. "We have full confidence that Matt will be one-hundred percent before the start of training camp."
Stafford, 22, first injured the shoulder in Week 1 and then again against the Jets in Week 9. He started three games this season and finished only one.
In his first two NFL seasons, he has missed more games (19) due to injury than he's played (13).
Still, GM Martin Mayhew has no doubts about Stafford's durability going forward.
"I look at a guy who didn't miss any time in college," Mayhew said in his postseason press conference earlier this month. "He wasn't an injury-prone guy prior to getting here. So I don't think it's going to be an on-going issue. The doctors don't think it's going to be an on-going issue. We are going to get him healthy and he's going to play football next year."
Linebacker Zack Follett, though, expressed some doubt about Stafford's durability.
"He's a china doll right now," Follett said during an interview on a Fresno, Calif., radio station. "Anytime he gets hit, he goes down. Hopefully, it's just patiently waiting for him, because the kid is an awesome talent. He has a tremendous arm. The throws that he makes during practice when no one can touch him, he looks like an All-American quarterback. But put him in a game, and you hit his shoulder. So hopefully, say a couple prayers, keep him healthy next year, and the Lions can do some damage in the NFC."
Follett, in a subsequent radio interview, this one in Detroit, backed off his comments.
"I just used the china doll reference to describe his bad luck," Follett said. "It's the luck of the draw. He's had bad luck. I have no doubt that he can play a whole season. He's a tough kid. I'll tell you right now, I'm glad we have Matthew Stafford instead of the Bears' quarterback (Jay Cutler) because he goes in and plays with separated shoulders and wins games."
Cutler departed Chicago's NFC championship two weekend's ago to the dismay of fans and peers alike after suffering what was later deemed a sprained knee.