Detroit Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford has been the target of immense criticism. The past two seasons, Stafford has fallen short of expectations, contributing to the Lions’ major landslides. Fans, past players, and media members bashed the quarterback for sloppy mechanics, erratic decision-making, and being physically unfit.
Now, a bit of brighter light is shining upon Stafford, as NFL insiders ranked him the 13th overall quarterback, stating many evaluators believe he has tremendous talent to excel into one of the top quarterbacks in the league.
ESPN stated this opinion on Stafford:
“There’s a feeling among evaluators that Stafford, more than any other QB outside the top five, has the talent to ascend into the first tier. He is arguably the most intriguing starter in the league.”
Many Lions fans will snub this, disagreeing that Stafford is the guy to advance the franchise. Sure, Stafford’s had his rough patches, struggling to succeed at key points, but he’s also had some fantastic moments of utter brilliance. Stafford led this starved franchise to its first playoff berth in ten years in 2011, racking up over 40 touchdown passes and 5,000 passing yards. He’s also came close to the the 5,000 yard mark these past two seasons.
Go ahead, blame his success on wideout Calvin Johnson. However, it’s no coincidence that Johnson started having breakout seasons with Stafford behind center. It’s no coincidence that Johnson broke the single-season receiving yards record with Stafford, either. No other quarterback on the Lions has been able to get this much out of number 81.
Stafford’s talented; he has colossal arm strength, good football smarts, and a gravitating leadership aura to him. When a quarterback suffers from dropped passes, an indecent running attack (for most of his career, up until last season), and a coaching staff fronted by the undisciplined Jim Schwartz, struggles and failure are inevitable. Scott Linehan was the offensive coordinator; that speaks volumes towards such lackluster play-calling.
Through all of the mistrials, Stafford’s stayed poised, as he should. He’s never thrown any teammates under the bus. He’s always absorbed the criticism. He’s hung in there; that’s what defined leaders do.
Stafford’s cannon of an arm has made throws that’d drop someone’s jaw in fascinating awe. He’s gritty; risks do not intimidate him. Perhaps one of his most stunning moments came in 2013 at Ford Field against the Dallas Cowboys, where Stafford shockingly dove across the goal line to score the game-winning touchdown. Even his own teammates commended his stunning move. He has clutch ability, something that can’t be taught. He’s had 10 fourth-quarter comebacks, leading 12 game-winning drives.
2013 was a disappointing season for Detroit. The Lions fell short, Stafford contributing to much of that — but not all. Receivers dropped passes, the defense blew leads, and the coaching staff was disorganized. Not to mention, the turnovers from his offensive teammates were baffling. Regardless of the past two seasons, Stafford still has an abundance of talent, with all of the ability in the world to become a top-five quarterback. ESPN’s rating is just right. Stafford is ranked correctly, with the ability to step forward into greatness.