Ranking the greatest Detroit Lions of all time is no easy task to accomplish. From No. 1 all the way up to No. 99, I will attempt to rank the greatest Lions players based on their jersey number. This list now continues with my selection for the best at No. 9.
The first overall pick for the Detroit Lions in the 2009 NFL Draft, Matthew Stafford was pressed into the worst situation imaginable. Stafford was going to be the starting quarterback of a team that went 0-16 the previous year. After five years on the job, I’d say Stafford is doing a good job with the Lions.
Before Stafford‘s arrival in 2009, Jon Kitna had two 4,000-yard seasons in 2006 and 2007 which were the most in franchise history, Stafford has already put up three 4,000-plus yard seasons in each of the past three seasons. This feat is impressive considering the Lions have started a total of 55 quarterbacks in their 70-plus years in football. Stafford also became the first Lions quarterback ever to throw for over 5,000 yards in a season, which he accomplished in 2011.
Aside from the gaudy statistics, Stafford has helped the Lions back to relevancy. In the 2011 season, Stafford threw for 41 touchdowns and led the Lions to the postseason for the first time since 1999. Stafford has also brought plenty of exciting moments to the Motor City.
In his rookie year in 2009, Stafford defeated the Cleveland Browns on a last-second touchdown pass after separating his shoulder. Stafford also defeated the Dallas Cowboys in 2013 with a surprise fake spike play that resulted in a touchdown off a quarterback sneak.
Last year, Stafford eclipsed Bobby Layne as Detroit’s most prolific passer in terms of statistics. While the wins have not been present like that of Layne, Stafford is easily making the case as the second best quarterback in Lions history. Time will tell, but after these first five seasons, he certainly has a chance to do so.