By: Tom Millikan
I was convinced the Detroit Lions had their franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford following the 2011 season. Stafford led the Lions to a 10-6 record and the team’s first playoff appearance since 1999. He had a 41-16 TD/Int ratio completing 63.5% of his passes while throwing for over 5,000 yards. It was Stafford’s first full healthy season, the Lions finally had their guy and things would only get better. I thought he would lead the Lions to the Super Bowl and possibly attain elite status. Boy was I WRONG.
In reality, Matthew Stafford had a Scott Mitchell-like career year in 2011. His stellar play in that one season fooled a lot of us. In the past two seasons, Stafford has a 48-34 TD/Int ratio completing just 59% of his passes. They’re mediocre, middle-of-the-road quarterback stats.
Stafford supporters will use yardage to argue he is a franchise quarterback. I’m a believer that yardage is for losers if you turn the ball over. The yardage on drives where Stafford throws picks is wasted yardage.
When Stafford came into the league, I felt that if he could be better than Tony Romo, he would lead the Lions to the promise land. In five seasons, Stafford has not reached that level of play.
All he has become is a poor man’s Tony Romo. Stafford’s stats are a tier below Romo’s when you compare their careers. That’s a scary trend. Why? Because Tony Romo is feeling heat in Dallas and some fans want him run out of town. The view point is Dallas has wasted all these years waiting on Romo. How long do you want to wait on Stafford?
My fear is we will continue to wait and wait for Stafford to achieve franchise/elite status. Then three-to-five years from now Stafford will be Tony Romo at best; a guy who fans want out of town.
Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe Stafford will get it right with a coaching change or better talent. But I’m sick of playing the maybe game with the Lions. If we’re playing the maybe game, maybe Matthew Stafford is like Jay Cutler; a journeyman, middle-of-the road, poor man’s Tony Romo.
The reality of the situation is I’m questioning Matthew Stafford’s franchise status. That’s troubling five years into his career. He is settling into mediocrity. And so are the Lions.