After watching the Detroit Lions record a 27-20 win over the Washington Redskins on Saturday afternoon it is very clear that Detroit has had a great start to the season. This start has been aided significantly by the great production of Matthew Stafford and should result in pundits finally recognizing that he is one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.
Stafford threw for 385 yards and two touchdowns in Detroit’s win on Saturday, in the process bringing his football card to read: 1020 passing yards, a 63.6 percent completion rate, six touchdowns, two interceptions and a 2-1 record. This is a remarkable level of success when going up against three defenses in the Redskins, Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings that each have the ability to make life on a quarterback difficult by providing pressure in the pocket and having defensive backs that shut down passing lanes.
It would be easy enough to anoint Stafford a top-notch quarterback just after putting up remarkable statistics against these three teams , but his success dates back further. During the two seasons prior to 2013 he threw for a combined total of 10,005 yards, 61 touchdowns and 33 interceptions, while in the process throwing for a 61.6 percent completion rate. In this time period only Tom Brady and Drew Brees were tied or better in all four of these categories showing that despite the fact that the NFL is turning into a pass-first league what Stafford is accomplishing statistically is remarkable.
Some people will try to shoo down Stafford’s achievements because of the fact that his Detroit Lions regressed from a 10-6 record and a Wild Card berth in 2011 to a 4-12 record in 2012, but this fails to understand the complexities of football. During the 2012 season the Lions only had one player that rushed for over 500 yards, Mikel Leshoure, and as a result all of the defenses’ focus was on the pass game. In addition to that, this team’s defense let up 25 points or more nine times, an unacceptable total that put even more pressure on Stafford’s shoulders. Despite this poor play from his backfield and the Lions defense Stafford still managed to throw for 4967 yards, showing that he will not allow his production to go down even if things are crumbling all around.
Once one gets over the fact that a quarterback cannot control everything in a football game but simply their performance on the field they will see that Matthew Stafford is one of the best quarterbacks around and has been for a couple years now. After all, his statistical contributions since 2011 match up favorably with any quarterback in the NFL, and it appears that he may actually be an even better quarterback than ever before as we head into the meat of the 2013 season.