Halapoulivaati Vaitai is one of a few new kids on the block up front for the Detroit Lions, and already, he’s getting accustomed to his new quarterback.
Vaitai came to the Lions this offseason off a stint with the Philadelphia Eagles, and the team had plenty of success while he was there. Now, though, the lineman finds himself just as motivated in his new surroundings thanks to Matthew Stafford.
Speaking to the media, Vaitai explained that Stafford’s drive to win is impressive.
“What I notice from Matt, Matt’s always trying to win. If you’re going to play with Matt or for Matt, you’ve got to pick up the tempo because he’s not here to lolly-gag, he’s here to win. I picked that up pretty fast and I’ll give him everything I have. He’s really good back there.”
Stafford expects a ton from his teammates and especially his offensive linemen, and it’s great to see expectations getting raised and players staying fired up when working with him.
Vaitai sounds ready to dominate this season and Stafford could be a big reason why.
Matthew Stafford Named Potential MVP by ESPN
Stafford’s winning mindset is that of a player who is locked in and wants success at the greatest level. He looks healthy and motivated and 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.
To become league MVP, the Lions will have to have an elite season on the field in terms of winning and also get great stats from Stafford. It might seem like a tall order, but it’s always possible if the Lions can finally play up to their potential.
Golladay might be a big reason why, and Stafford could be a player that is one of the truthfully great comeback stories as a result.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai Statistics
Vaitai, out of TCU, is only 26 years old and has 20 career starts under his belt from his time with the Eagles. Vaitai has also played in 55 NFL games in his career, and was a former fifth round pick of the Eagles in 2016.
Vaitai helped the Eagles win Super Bowl LII, and is an up and coming lineman. The team will now try to change their fortunes up front with a key free agent who can play either tackle spot or guard, even though Vaitai is an offensive tackle by trade.
That versatility was likely the huge selling point in the end for the Lions when they made the move to sign him.
Now that Vaitai is in the mix, he seems to appreciate his new quarterback and new surroundings. It’s neat to see everybody on the same page.
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