Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford’s path to the Hall of Fame

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Detroit Lions franchise-leading quarterback Matthew Stafford has put up some great stats over his career, but what about reaching the Hall of Fame?

Since the offseason is full of talk, why not take a way-too-early look at Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and what it will take for him to reach the Hall of Fame? Aside from a few no-brainer Hall of Famers like Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, anyone else looking to get into the Hall still has some work to do.

There are numerous factors that lead to someone being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Two of the biggest factors are career statistics and individual accomplishments. Let’s see where Stafford stands within these two areas.

The accomplishments are easier to sift through for Stafford. He’s been to the playoffs three times with zero victories. He made the Pro Bowl in 2014. He was named 2011 NFL AP Comeback Player of the Year. No Super Bowls. No All-Pro selections. Needless to say, there’s a lot of work to do in this area.

We know it doesn’t necessarily take a Super Bowl victory to be awarded a gold jacket, but it certainly helps. Let’s start with Stafford and the Detroit Lions winning a playoff game. Then another. And then another. As with all quarterbacks, they are given a win-loss record, unlike any other position in football. Thus, team success is necessary for this purpose.

Making the Pro Bowl and All-Pro team is tough. There are a lot of good players for Stafford to compete with in the NFC, including Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. Reputation alone pushes Stafford down the list of the popularity contest that is the Pro Bowl.

Stafford has never been named the MVP, but in 2016 he was talked about in the top 10 possibilities towards the end of the season. Again, a better team record can change a lot for this selection.

Let’s turn our focus to what Stafford has more control over – his stats. He’s currently ranked 29th in NFL history with 34,749 passing yards. There are only nine current Hall members with more passing yards, topping out with 71,838 yards by Brett Favre. As a little fun comparison, Rodgers has been in the league four year’s longer than Stafford and only has roughly 4,000 yards more than Stafford (38,502 yards).

For Stafford to eclipse the line needed for his case as a Hall of Famer in today’s NFL, he’s going to need to add about 20,000 yards, if not more. Keeping his current pace, he’ll need to play five more seasons for that to happen.

This tweet is talking about the last seven years of Stafford’s career. In those years, he actually threw for more than 4,200 yards. Can he do it for five more years? With his age and health, it sounds reasonable.

Total touchdown passes can also be a factor. Stafford currently has 216 TD passes on his resume, good for 15th on the list of current Hall of Famers. But when you add active quarterbacks to the list, he drops to 32nd. Today’s NFL airs it out much more than in the past. Adding 100 TDs to this list would certainly help.

Again, on the five-year plan, that’s 20 touchdowns per season. Attainable? Certainly. Stafford has gone seven straight seasons with at least 20 TDs or more per season. If he added 25 touchdowns in 2018, he’d pass the likes of Steve Young and Jim Kelly on the all-time list.

Something that might come up is career completion percentage. Stafford is doing very well in that category. He’s at 62% and only behind three Hall of Famers: Kurt Warner, Steve Young and Joe Montana. All Stafford needs to do is keep his pace here and he’ll be fine.

Mentioning these other players is for the sake of comparison. The Hall of Fame isn’t necessarily a head-to-head battle. A player’s entire body of work is considered by the 48-person selection committee. So, there’s a lot of opinions flying around the room on selection day. Any player wanting to pass through the door needs to do something to stand out.

As for Stafford, he just needs to keep playing. He’s a very good quarterback in this league and he tends to get overshadowed by other quarterbacks that consistently win playoff games. This isn’t a knock on Stafford. Football is a team game. The Detroit Lions need to do more winning, especially in the postseason.

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This is a very early look at where Stafford ranks. If he keeps up his current pace and the Lions make some noise in the postseason, he stands a reasonable chance of being a Hall of Famer. We’ll have to wait and see what the next five years hold for him and this Lions team.

Do you think Stafford has a shot at the Hall of Fame? Leave your comments below!