Matthew Stafford is a name we all know and most, love. But, he is very underrated when it comes to media rankings. I’m here to add fuel to the “Stafford is elite” fire.
Matthew Stafford was a 5-star recruit out of Highland Park High School, near Dallas, Texas. In his best and final year, he accumulated 3991 yards to pair with 38 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. He committed to Georgia after being heavily recruited by many power 5 schools.
The Stafford we see on Sundays, the man Lions fans cherish as their franchise quarterback, is an elite player. In my eyes, he receives flack at times because of whom he plays for and not how good he plays. Newsflash guys, Stafford is a top 8 quarterback, period.
But mainstream media sees differently, and that’s why I’m here; to change that agenda.
For starters, not many remember him in college, or even his early years in the NFL.
Stafford’s college career had a rocky start, he threw for a measly 1749 yards and he had more picks than touchdowns in his first season.
He followed that up with a better, but not great performance. Tallying 2523 yards along with 19 touchdowns, but again had 10 interceptions.
His third and final season was by far his best. It earned him the right to be the #1 overall pick by Detroit in 2009. He threw for 3459 yards along with 25 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions while in a run-heavy offense. But the number that really showed his capabilities was his near-perfect passer rating at 153.5. That’s hard enough to do for one game, and he sustained it for an entire season while leading Georgia to 10 wins.
The Detroit Lions had just gone 0-16. They were sitting at the #1 overall pick. A very big decision to make, Matthew Stafford or Aaron Curry (probably). Today, we all know they made the right decision regardless of how you feel about Stafford. If you are a Lions fan, you truly know what he has done for the organization. Without him this team is lucky to win four games a year.
But, that’s not the entirety of this article, his story doesn’t end there.
Even in his early days, “Staffdaddy” was zippin ’em all over the field. Throwing jump balls to Calvin Johnson, staging heroic comebacks, and showing his grit when he played through injuries. The moniker was made for him, “big arm, lot of 50/50 balls, he has Calvin,” etc.
But Stafford has hit the record books…hard. Yet still, he is undervalued, underappreciated, and underrated. No matter what the circumstance, in my mind Matthew Stafford is a top 5 quarterback in this league.
As I’ve stated before, really only Lions fans know the true level to which Stafford’s powers reach. The fake spike vs Dallas, huge throw to Tate on the sideline vs Minnesota, full on running over a Titans DB, the epic Browns game when he injured his shoulder, the comeback vs the colts and the list goes on. But, the biggest thing for me is game in and game out, Stafford is not only a locker room leader, he’s an on-field leader. A worker, first guy in last guy out.
Stafford wraps his beautiful arm talent with a nice little bow, his football mind. Some would call him a quiet leader, that is, until he’s on the field. To sum it all up; he’s basically everything you want in a franchise quarterback.
Before you jump down my throat with the “hE DoEsNt BeAt GoOd TeAms” agenda, first of all, QB wins isn’t a real stat. Wins come down to team play, and throughout his career, he’s had a mediocre team, at best. He is the biggest reason the Lions were even in competition most of the time. Plus, the only time Detroit was in contention they got robbed by Dallas.
Hear me out, since being drafted in 2009 Matthew Stafford has thrown for a total of 34749 yards and 216 touchdowns on 62% completion. He is the fastest to reach 20k, 25k, 30k and will be fastest to 35k next season. He is a one-time pro bowler. While I believe he should have three or four, I’m not sold that pro bowl = elite as it’s based on votes and the whole point of this article is to change the majority’s mind.
What I am sold on is Stafford’s talent, he has totally transformed his game, starting with how he adjusts at the line to how he delivers the ball to his receivers. He’s way more comfortable at the line of scrimmage, you see him changing formations with a quick “Omaha” much like Peyton Manning. But you also see the fire he has to win when he’s yelling at Marvin Jones to get out-of-bounds. The biggest thing he’s fixed by far has to be his touch, early on his cannon for an arm was a bit too much ie; receivers leading the league in drops.
The steps he’s taken have shown as well, with a 65+ completion percentage the last 3 years as well as less than 14 interceptions since 2014. He relies on his uncanny arm strength to dot balls to his receivers, and his mind/mechanics are that of an elite quarterback. His best statistical season he threw for 5038 yards and 41 touchdowns, while also throwing 16 interceptions on 63.5% completion percentage in 2011.
Just think about this; with a running game ranked dead last in the league, he still managed to have the Lions ranked 7th in points and 13th in yards. He amassed 4446 yards and 29 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions that season on 65.7% and a 99.3 rating. Not to mention he holds just about every Lions passing record imaginable, and he should retire right around top 10 in career passing yards as well.
Although his touchdowns and yardage are a little less, his percentages and overall rating are better WITHOUT Calvin Johnson.
I believe he is under the cloud of judgment “the Lions suck” that casual “fans” throw out. Well, since Stafford was drafted and played an entire season the Lions have had 3 losing seasons, think about that.
SUMMING IT UP
Riddle me this, how does a quarterback with elite arm talent, elite IQ, and elite stats get seen as not elite? Easy answer, play for the Detroit Lions.
Bottom line, Matthew Stafford isn’t getting the respect he deserves and we will see him, as well as the Detroit Lions, take a huge step next season.