Matthew Stafford has been playing out of his mind.
He plays like a man on a mission. That mission? Prove that it wasn’t all Calvin Johnson. That Stafford is good on his own. That Johnson didn’t make Stafford great, Stafford made Stafford great. And so far this year, he’s done it.
That was proven in the last minute of play on Sunday, when Matthew Stafford took the Detroit Lions down the field, 75 yards, to the end zone. Everything rested upon him, and he took advantage. He found his marks, he scrambled, he did it all. And that’s MVP worthy.
And that’s not new for this season. Multiple times this year, Stafford has done the same thing. And because of it, the Lions look like a playoff team. And that’s despite a horrendous defense.
Multiple times throughout the past two seasons, Matthew Stafford has not looked like an elite quarterback. There was the only playoff game of his career in 2014 when he needed to be better. There was the criticism that he over-relied upon Calvin Johnson.
There was also his early season career stat line, which read like a Cleveland Browns QB: 13 games played out of 32, 258 completions/433 attempts, 56.35 completion percentage, 34.85 attempts per game, 2802 yards, 10.86 yards per completion, 6.47 yards per attempt, 215.53 yards per game, 19 TDs, 4.85 TD percentage, 21 interceptions, 3.65 interception percentage, 76.15 rating.
That’s not a great stat line, just FYI. He’s nearly beaten it already this season in 7 games. But as Stafford got steadily healthier (hasn’t missed a game since 2011), he’s gotten steadily better. And now, he’s at his peak, and it’s without the asterisk that was Calvin Johnson, Jr. (I hate repeating myself, but whenever I call someone an asterisk in a post like this, it’s not to diminish them, but to promote the other)
That’s not to say he doesn’t have good WRs. Starscream, aka Marvin Jones, is amazing. Golden Tate has gotten steadily better as the season has gone on, and is now doing really well. But that’s based off Matthew Stafford being an elite quarterback. That isn’t Calvin Johnson being a Hall of Fame wide receiver.
I think Stafford’s biggest competition this season is Matt Ryan. And it shouldn’t be – the Atlanta success is based on Julio Jones. Just like Stafford may have been a product of Calvin Johnson the last few seasons, Ryan could be a product of Julio.
The other competition is Ezekial Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys – he’ll get rookie of the year for sure, but not MVP quite yet. Another one is Tom Brady. Brady missed four games, and yet the Patriots did not look excellent like they do now, and they could finish with thirteen or fourteen wins. Fifteen is even possible for this team.
But the Patriots excellence as always needs to go to shared credit. Belichick showed he has systems for everything. I don’t think you can miss games and win the MVP. If that was possible Peyton Manning would have won in 2012.
I truly think this is Matthew Stafford’s year. Since Jim Bob Cooter was added in the BYE week of last year, here’s Matthew Stafford’s numbers: 4093 yards, 34 TDs, 6 ints, 1 rushing touchdown. That’s an insane amount for Matthew Stafford, and half of it has come without Calvin Johnson. Jim Bob Cooter really has been the best thing for Matthew Stafford, and having been his QB coach since 2014, understands Matthew Stafford more than perhaps anyone.
And if that one drive was any indication, Stafford this year has the ability to do anything. That includes getting the Lions back to the playoffs. The coming weeks will be a test, but as it currently stands, Matthew Stafford should be seriously considered for the MVP.