It’s not really surprising, but former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is on a fast track to winning league MVP in his first year out of Detroit.
The offseason trade that sent Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and draft picks was clearly going to become evidence of being “a product of the environment” one way or the other. While Goff has been dismal for the 0-8 Detroit Lions, as easily seen coming by his decline/exposure late in his time with the Rams, Stafford has found a new lease on life on a 7-1 team.
Stafford is second in the NFL in passing yards (2,477), with 22 touchdown passes (also second to Tom Brady), a 118 passer rating (second, to Russell Wilson) and a 77.6 QBR (best in the league). His 68.9 percent completion rate is sixth in the league. Any talk of league MVP candidates at roughly the midpoint in the 2021 season naturally includes the former Lions’ signal caller.
A deeper stat puts Matthew Stafford on fast track to MVP
According to Next Gen Stats, the quarterback who has generated the most pass EPA (Expected Points Added) has won league MVP each year since 2016 (the “Next Gen Stats Era”, as it was deemed). By that metric, Stafford is lapping the field with a +114.3 pass EPA through Week 8. Second place Dak Prescott is at +62.2. The gap between Stafford and Prescott (52.1) is wider than the gap between Prescott and 15th place Ryan Tannehill (+10.5). The graphic says Tannehill is 16th, but I counted–and the overall point still stands. It’s worth noting the metric leaves out any of a quarterback’s contribution as a runner.
The “numbers never lie” angle stands here. The eye test says Stafford is playing very well, backed up by traditional stats and the fact the Rams look like a legit Super Bowl contender. He has unlocked the Rams offense in a way Goff just could not or was not trusted to try to, which was also easy to see coming. For Lions fans, Stafford’s immediate success elsewhere is nice to see and frustrating at the same time