Matthew Stafford is an elite quarterback. There, I said it.
Now, once you have all stopped emphatically laughing and picked up your phones after throwing them across the room, let me explain myself.
As a disclaimer, this isn’t a piece calling Stafford the GOAT among GOATs (despite the beautiful featured image), but more me telling you why he is without a doubt among the top five quarterbacks in the league right now.
There are names that get thrown around in this ‘top five’ bracket all the time. Players like Carson Wentz who has his injury issues, Cam Newton who can’t find a team, Dak Prescott who is asking for way too much money and even old man Rivers
Yet, people always forget to mention the 2009 number one overall pick?
No offensive weapons, no problem.
The quarterback position is often the most crucial among an NFL franchise, with the player taking that role, often the most influential.
This certainly rings true with Stafford.
When your main man only has one viable wide-receiver to throw to, your offence can become predictable and nine times out of ten, this leads to the defence picking you apart.
The 32-year-old has had this for his entire career in Detroit.
During the first half of his career, Calvin ‘Megatron’ Johnson was his only elite offensive weapon and more recently he has had to rely solely upon Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr.
Let’s also take into consideration a near non-existent run game in the Lions playbook and you aren’t making life easy for your offensive leader.
Kerryon Johnson ended Detroit’s infamous 70 game run without a 100-yard rushing performance in 2018. SEVENTY GAMES.
That’s a notoriously poor run (pardon the pun) that dates back to Reggie Bush in 2013 vs the Green Bay Packers.
Bush is also the last Lion back to surpass the 1000 yard mark on a season, scraping by with 1,006 in that same year.
Basically, Matt has never had a good run game to rely on which many other quarterbacks do. If Aaron Rodgers struggles, he goes to Aaron Jones. If Russell Wilson struggles, he goes to Chris Carson. Stafford has never had that safety net.
“He lacks that clutch gene like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.”
A clutch gene is best described when looking at players who rise above impossible looking odds. Those near impossible throws, those key third or fourth down plays and those big fourth quarter comebacks.
Stafford currently lies fifth in current quarterbacks when it comes down to those crucial fourth quarter comebacks.
Considering he’s much younger than other players above him on this list (the likes of Matt Ryan, Big Ben, Tom Brady & Drew Brees), there’s absolutely no denying that he single-handedly carries the Lions over the line when needed.
He has more fourth quarter comebacks than the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson, Phillip Rivers and Eli Manning.
The veteran has displayed clutch performances that seem to have slid under the radar time and time again.
The Longest Yard(s)
As touched on previously, the Lions have never given their quarterback a legitimate run game, which is why time after time he has had to look down field at any given chance.
The number nine has already surpassed more passing yards than Joe Montana, Tony Romo, Troy Aikman and Kurt Warner, all whilst being the tender age of 32! A prime age for quarterbacks in today’s market.
Still not convinced? Well he also has the second highest average yardage per game upon all NFL quarterbacks, ever. Yes, you read that right, EVER.
The likes of Aaron Rodgers currently averages 259.4 whilst Stafford is way ahead on 275.3 yards per game. Patrick Mahomes isn’t the only one with a cannon for an arm.
“He’s good but can he even stay healthy?”
He may have had a disappointing 2019 season that was cut short by an extremely nasty injury in a broken back but it’s not as though this has been a regular occurrence with him over the years.
Before this, Stafford held one of the longest runs for consecutive starts in the league with an impressive 136 appearances. Only Phillip Rivers (224) and Matt Ryan (154) boast longer streaks within today’s active players.
What makes this more impressive is the fact he managed to rake up those appearances behind below par offensive lines for the most.
“Yeah but, he’s not a winner.”
Nope he hasn’t won many games – in fact, he’s lost more game than he’s won in his career. But is this really a viable argument?
Andy Dalton, Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford are all stuck on 69 wins in their career. Kurt Warner, a hall of fame quarterback has 67.
Yet if you were to look at just “QB wins” – then these guys are all overshadowed by none other than Jay Cutler.
Wins aren’t everything, unless you’re Tom Brady that is.
The best quarterbacks are often drafted by teams with bad records and therefore a lot of the time, struggle to amass wins for a steady period.
For Stafford to boast impressive stats and performances for a team like the Lions only showcases just how good he really is.
Even the best of the best need help to win games and big Matt hasn’t had that luxury for the majority of his career.
At 32-years-old, he can be considered to be in his prime years and he still has time firmly on his side to increase his already impressive performances.
Whatever you may think of Matthew Stafford as a franchise quarterback, the Detroit Lions owe him. His undoubted talent deserves at the very least a play-off run, maybe even a Super Bowl.
Now call me crazy.