The accolades for Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford have been few and far between for fans. But he has his supporters in the national media.
An optimist is often described as someone who sees a glass as half full. While the pessimist sees the same glass as half empty. Instead of a nondescript glass, perhaps they can make the new barometer the career of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Fans seem divided when it comes to the legacy of Stafford as the longtime passer prepares to dive into his 12th NFL season in the Motor City. While many agree that the former number one overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft is the Lions’ greatest quarterback since Bobby Layne, his lack of playoff success continues to be his biggest obstacle to being considered elite.
No postseason victories in 11 years and a lone Pro Bowl bid in 2014 has left Stafford in a no man’s land between good and great. And despite the fact he’s just 32-years old, the veteran passer is coming off an injury-plagued season which forced him to miss eight games.
Considering all those factors, there’s a contingent that believes the Lions should use their first-round selection in this month’s NFL draft to select a quarterback third overall. The name hanging in the air is, of course, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, who has his own injury concerns.
Yet, Stafford also has his supports both within the fanbase and the national media. For example, here’s what Bucky Brooks wrote recently about the Lions’ signal-caller after naming him one of five of the NFL’s transcendent quarterbacks.
"” … the Lions’ QB1 is a fantastic talent who rivals some of the elites at the position … While some point to Stafford’s sub-.500 record (69-79-1) as an indictment of his game, No. 9 has shown clutch ability (28 fourth-quarterback comeback wins) and resilience while thriving without a premier running back or consistent running game throughout his career.”"
Brooks defines transcendent passers as those who thrive in any situation and perform at a high level without an elite supporting cast or due to a specific scheme. And he’s rightfully placed Stafford in some elite company that includes the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, and the Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson.
Many seem to forget that the Lions started last season 2-0-1, with big victories over the Los Angeles Chargers and the Philadelphia Eagles. Detroit also went toe-to-toe with the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs in a 34-30 slugfest in Week Four.
As for Stafford, he was on pace to have a career year before succumbing to back/hip injuries. If he had continued his performance from his first eight games into the second half of last season, he would have posted an impressive stat-line of nearly 5,000 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, and just 10 interceptions. That would have been his best statical performance since 2011.
Tasked with making the 3-12-1 Detroit Lions a playoff contender in 2020, having a healthy Matthew Stafford under center all year seems to be the only way that a quick turnaround happens. So, once again, the Lions will ask Stafford to be his most transcendent self and lift Detroit to playoff relevance.