Daniel Jeremiah: Matthew Stafford is a top-six quarterback in 2020

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

Daniel Jeremiah believes the Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford is a top-six quarterback

Through the first nine weeks of the 2019 NFL regular season, only one quarterback was more highly-rated than the Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford. Racking up nearly 2,500 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, and only five interceptions, Stafford was putting together a solid bid for NFL MVP.

Unfortunately, back and hip injuries ended Stafford’s 11th NFL season prematurely. And the Lions, who were 3-4-1 with their franchise quarterback under center, didn’t win another game without him.

Stafford’s misfortune granted both Lions’ general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia a reprieve. But that extra life coin, which gave both Quinn and Patricia another season to right the ship, also came with a mandate from ownership. The Lions’ brass expects this 3-12-1 team to be playoff contenders in 2020.

And the key to that resurgence appears to be the health of their 32-year old passer. Although the Lions bought themselves some insurance signing veteran backup quarterback Chase Daniel this offseason, it’s hard to believe anyone but Stafford leading Detroit back to the postseason this year.

In fact, one former NFL scout believes Stafford will pick up where he left off last season. Here’s what NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah had to say after naming the Lions’ passer the sixth-best quarterback heading into the 2020 NFL season.

"“Matthew Stafford, to me, if he would’ve had stayed healthy last year, you’re taking about somebody we would have been mentioning as the best quarterback in the National Football League. He’s always had that type of ability. If they can protect him upfront … I think you see a huge year from Matthew Stafford.”"

Stafford certainly did appear to be on a tear last season. Projecting his numbers out to a full-16 game slate, it’s reasonable to believe he would have posted over 5,000 passing yards, with nearly 40 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions.

As for the Lions’ 3-12-1 record last season, Motown was highly-competitive with Stafford under center. The Lions tied their Week One game against the upstart Arizona Cardinals despite holding a 24-6 lead in the fourth quarter.

Then Detroit defeated the Los Angeles Chargers at Ford Field and took down the Philadelphia Eagles on the road. In Week Four, the Lions were beating the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs 30-27 with just over two minutes left in the game before losing on a last-second touchdown run.

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Following their Week Five bye, the Lions lost a one-point game to the Green Bay Packers despite holding a 22-13 lead in the final frame. Detroit then got mopped up by the Minnesota Vikings, 42-30, the following week.

But the Lions would bounce back with a solid 31-26 victory over the hapless New York Giants. And then they ended Stafford’s run with a loss to the Raiders despite tying the score at 24 with just over five minutes left in the game.

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It can be argued that the Detroit Lions could have easily gone 7-1 to start last season with Matthew Stafford under center. That only highlights just how well he played and how important he is to the team. If Daniel Jeremiah is right, and Stafford does post a season worthy of his ranking, the Lions could very well jump from worst to first in the NFC North.