Detroit Lions QB Matt Stafford is one more solid season away from breaking the teams’ all time passing yards total. The record is 55-years old and belongs to Hall of Famer Bobby Layne. Layne played for the Lions from 1950-58, and also holds the Lions career touchdown pass record with 118.
Currently, Stafford has 12,807 yards passing and 80 touchdowns. Those stats put him second behind Layne in both categories. Stafford would need 2,903 yards in 2013 to surpass Layne in the record books. With only 80 touchdown passes in his career as of yet, Stafford may need a few more years to pass Layne in that category.
So how do the quarterbacks compare? Stafford was the first overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft. He has dealt with injuries early on in his career but has since bounced back, finishing 2011 with over 5000 yards passing and 41 touchdowns.
That put him in the NFL’s record books for sixth all-time in single season passing yards. Stafford followed that up this past season with a 4967-yard performance, putting him behind himself at number seven all-time.
That is pretty impressive. Oddly enough, the only other quarterbacks to put up more passing yards in back-to-back seasons are New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees and New England Patriots QB Tom Brady — in the same years!
I don’t know what was in the water these past two seasons, but if it’s any indication of where the league is heading, records will be shattered left and right in the future.
It’s hard to argue that Stafford is better than Layne at this point, but I can show you where Layne was after four seasons with Detroit and let the numbers speak for themselves. For starters, Layne was drafted by the Chicago Bears back in 1948. He was then traded to a team that I could write an entire article about for another time.
In short, the team was the New York Bulldogs, who became the New York Yanks. The Yanks collapsed and became the Dallas Texans, who in turn collapsed and became the Baltimore Colts. The Colts left Baltimore on a dark night and set up shop in Indianapolis, where they currently reside. Got it? History lesson over!
Layne finally ended up with Detroit in 1950, and that’s where I’ll start with his comparison to Stafford. In his first four seasons with the Lions, Layne had 8,813 passing yards and 77 touchdowns.
It must be noted that the NFL of those days was a run-first league. Layne never threw over 350 times during that span. There were also only 12 games played each season during that time. In one season, Stafford throws enough passes to compare to three seasons from that era.
So you can see why comparing the two is hard at this point, but I can say that Matt Stafford is playing at a high level. Anything could happen between now and the end of his career, but let’s average his stats and hypothetically say that Stafford plays another eight seasons.
That would put Stafford with just about 39,000 yards passing, which is good enough for 15th all-time in the record books. He’d finish with about 200 touchdowns as well.
Hall of Fame worthy? I’m not so sure. We’ll just have to sit back, relax and watch his career unfold. But regardless of where he ends up in the NFL record books, Mathew Stafford will end his career as the best Detroit Lions quarterback to ever play the game. That is something he can be proud of.