Recently, Pro Football Focus took a look at picking out some quarterback tiers for every signal caller this coming season. Stafford himself was said to be a tier 3 player, which is defined by writer Steve Palazzolo as a “volatile or conservative quarterback that rely heavily on supporting cast and play calling” in any given season.
Here is what Palazzolo wrote on Stafford’s case:
“Stafford getting back to a downfield attacking machine is a great sign for the Lions, and that should absolutely be their approach in 2020. There are a handful of games each year in which Stafford looks like a top-five quarterback, using his strong arm and playmaking feel to make “wow” plays all over the field. While it’s not easy to bottle that up and trot it out there for 16 games, a more aggressive, downfield-throwing Stafford has a much better chance of unlocking that potential, and the Lions have the skill position talent to put points on the board.”
The rating for Stafford isn’t likely too far off. Certain seasons the quarterback has been better than others, and it has a direct result of what type of players he has complementing him and what type of system he is playing in. With Darrell Bevell now in the fold and the team looking comfortable on offense, the hope is that the Lions have finally found Stafford the kind of system that allows for consistency.
Joining Stafford in this tier were plenty of players, including Carson Wentz, Kirk Cousins, Dak Prescott, Baker Mayfield, Jared Goff and even Cam Newton. Theoretically, Stafford could be in position to be better than some of these players this coming season.
Right now, though, Stafford is still volatile, which means anything could be the case.
Matthew Stafford Played ‘Best Football’ During 2019
ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky went back and watched the tape from early in the 2019 season when Stafford was healthy. What he found was a quarterback that he thinks was playing the best football in the entire league at that point at his position.
Go re-watch the first 8 games for the @Lions last year. Matthew Stafford was the best QB in football.
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) July 22, 2020
Orlovsky’s take might be shocking to some. Quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes and company had great seasons. Stafford was on their level until he suffered a back injury which cost him the second half of the year and a chance at team and personal success.
How good would Stafford have finished? Nobody knows, but it’s clear if the player that was around in the beginning of last season shows up in 2020, the team will benefit in a significant way. It could have everything to do with the system he’s in, which could mean big things for the Lions and calming some volatility.
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.
Top 5 Transcendent QB Talents
1. Patrick Mahomes, KC
2. Russell Wilson, Seattle
3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
4. DeShaun Watson, Houston
5. Matt Stafford, Detroit
— Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) April 4, 2020
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.
The hope is that next season, Stafford can put together just as elite of a year and dominate on the field in similar fashion. If he can, he’s likely to surge higher on tiers such as this for 2021