Matthew Stafford hasn’t been given much help during his career with the Detroit Lions, and as a result he hasn’t done much big winning. That, however, might not tarnish his image as a player on the rise in quarterback circles.
Like every year, CBS Sports analyst Jason La Canfora put out his quarterback tier rankings, placing league signal callers into multiple categories. They are the bona fide franchise quarterbacks (tier 1), top pros and proven winners (tier 2), rising stars (tier 3), you can win with them (tier 4), guys, veterans and placeholders (tier 5), good luck (tier 6) and the jury is out (tier 7).
This offseason, Stafford fell into the “top pros and proven winners” category. Alongside him were Matt Ryan and Dak Prescott. In terms of the explanation why, La Canfora hinted that he is ready for Stafford to do some big winning, and thinks he will get to that in 2020 when healthy.
“Stafford has always been underappreciated and let down by those around him. He was looking like an MVP last year before he got hurt. I bet he picks up where he left off.”
Last season, Stafford was a tier 4 quarterback, or deemed “someone you can win with.” Obviously, La Canfora is looking at Stafford as a player on the rise for this season and thinks he can start to do some major winning on the field.
That’s the hope for the Lions as they move into a new season.
NFL Analyst Thinks Lions Troubles Not Matthew Stafford’s Fault
Recently, former NFL personnel man turned ESPN analyst Louis Riddick explained on Get Up why the Lions don’t need to be looking for a new quarterback in 2020, and the reason was because the team still hasn’t done enough to fully support Stafford in all the ways they can.
“You understand they haven’t put much around this young man at all. From 2011-2017, Matthew Stafford threw for over 4,000 yards every season. In 2011, he threw for 5,000 yards. He basically has carried this football team on his own with no help,” Riddick said. “They had no running game during this entire time. This is a team that has been in the bottom quarter of the league rushing the football because they just put it all on Matthew Stafford’s shoulders. And he delivered. He’s been a top 10 quarterback the entire time he’s been in the NFL. What has happened though is everything around him has been absolutely average to below average to mediocre. It’s been subpar. He’s gotten no help. No quarterback can transcend mediocrity when its surrounding him. Matthew Stafford has had to try and win and succeed in spite of dysfunction around him his entire career.”
As Riddick went on to explain, the Lions have tried to change course recently, but it hasn’t gone that well for them, only further proving his point.
“Finally, they started investing in the offensive line. They drafted Kerryon Johnson, he needs to stay healthy. They’ve become a little more balanced. They’ve done some decent things on the defensive side of the football, but it hasn’t been good enough,” he said. “The people around Matthew have failed him. Matthew hasn’t failed Detroit, the people around Matthew have failed Detroit.”
Safe to say that Riddick, who understands the inner-workings of the league well, is dropping some serious knowledge with this topic.
Matthew Stafford Called Elite Quarterback
Stafford is clearly valued by folks in the NFL community in a big way. Recently, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com revealed a list of his top 5 quarterbacks who are transcendent in the league right now. Stafford was included, and was included amongst some true luminaries right now at the position.
It’s likely to be controversial for many that Stafford is on the list given his lack of big success in the NFL in terms of wins and losses at this point, but there is little doubting the fact that Stafford has some major talent to rely on at this point. He’s got a great arm and all the tools to dominate.
The hope is Stafford’s talent shines through and he starts to win bigger on the big stage in the future. For now, though, he still makes the cut in terms of elite players at his position in the mind of Brooks and likely plenty of others.
Matthew Stafford Named Potential 2020 NFL MVP by ESPN
That back injury ended up costing Stafford the rest of the 2019 season, but now that he has presumably healed up, the sky could be the limit for the quarterback during the 2020 season. In fact, some already see Stafford as being in the mix for a major award for his play during next season.
ESPN recently put together an Insider piece predicting some outcomes for the 2020 season. When it came to league MVP, there were scant votes for Stafford, but one insider was bold enough to say he thinks the Detroit quarterback could be the league MVP.
In a piece by MLive.com’s Benjamin Raven, the thoughts of ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler from the piece are presented. Here’s a look at what was written by Raven that Fowler shared in the piece:
“The Lions quarterback was playing some of the best ball of his career before going down with fractured bones in his back, though, and his level of play was reason enough for one ESPN analyst to pencil him in as the 2020 NFL MVP.
“Mahomes is still the game’s best player, but Stafford was playing really good football before his midseason back issues,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler writes (ESPN Insider). “If he leads Detroit to contention, which isn’t so farfetched considering the talent around him, he’ll be in the MVP mix because he puts up numbers and the NFC North is as open as Kenny Golladay.”
The Lions were arguably getting MVP level play out of Stafford before he got hurt, and the numbers proved that he was acclimating just fine to Darrell Bevell’s new offense in Detroit. Last season, Stafford was cruising along to the tune of 19 touchdowns, 5 interceptions and 2,499 yards. Clearly, he was the most valuable player for the Lions considering what happened to the team when he went down.
Ahead of an important season, it helped him move up on a tier list significantly.