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NFL Draft

Matthew Stafford Was A Top-5 QB In 2019, Can Be Again In 2020

  • The Draft Network
  • June 2, 2020
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I would say that there were whispers of uncertainty surrounding Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford this offseason, but those whispers were more like rumblings and far louder than I thought they would be.

With Detroit coming off another disappointing season and Stafford only playing in only eight games due to a back injury, there was wonder whether not to it would be wise to turn the page on the now 31-year-old gunslinger.

The answer is no.

Stafford's back injury isn't an injury to be overly concerned about. There was a perception Stafford's injury could potentially be more serious, but that because of some uncertainty during his diagnosis and recovery process. It ended his season, but all signs point to it not affecting him long term. For Stafford, missing that game in November was the first time he had missed a start since 2010. His 136 consecutive games started was the sixth-longest streak in NFL history.

Stafford should be back on the field next season no problem. But is there cause for concern even when he's out there? Some would tell you yes after another season where, as a starter, he was below .500 in the win-loss column.

But I'm here to tell you to not listen to those people and to instead have faith in Stafford as he continues to be one of the best passers in the league.

The 2018 season was the first time Stafford threw for less than 4,000 yards since 2010 (535) when he only played in three games. His 21 touchdown passes were also the lowest season total he had recorded since 2012 (20). His yards per attempt were down, his quarterback rating was down and, on the surface, there was reason to believe that after all these years his arm might just not be what we were used to seeing.

The 2019 season proved that wasn't the case.

In just eight games, Stafford threw for 19 touchdowns to just five interceptions with 2,499 passing yards. If you take those numbers to a full 16 games, they would be 38 passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions and 4,998 passing yards. All of those numbers would be second-best production and efficiency totals throughout his entire career. They also would have been the second-most passing yards and most passing touchdowns in the league in 2019. 

We can even take those numbers and get into some greater detail to further prove the point that Stafford was on his way to a stellar year. According to ESPN’s Matt Bowen, Stafford was a top-five quarterback in QBR against man coverage, against zone coverage and against the blitz.

Need more? If you say so.

In 2019, Stafford was also eighth in Pro Football Focus' quarterback grades with 82.6; among the rest of his peers in the league, he was second in yards per attempt at 8.6, sixth in passer rating at 106.0, fourth in touchdown percentage with 6.5 percent and 12th in interception percentage with just 1.7%.

Stafford is not only still worth that starting spot in Detroit, not only one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL but could even be a top-five passer, at age 32, in the year 2020, so long as he stays healthy the way he has for most of his career.

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