Toughness and determination: if any two words can describe the season quarterback Matthew Stafford and his Detroit Lions have had this season, those would be them. Despite losing one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history in Calvin Johnson to retirement, the Lions have been one of the NFL’s most improved teams in 2016. How could that be possible, given few acquisitions and improvements made to the team in the offseason? One just has to look at the play of Stafford to see just why the Lions are one of the best teams in the NFC North.
Matthew Stafford Deserves the MVP Award
Adjusting to the Situation
Coming into this season, very few expected the Lions to be an above .500 team in playoff contention. Now, the Lions are 9-4 and currently the second seed in the NFC Playoff picture. Almost all of the credit for the Lions great season must go to Matthew Stafford.
As mentioned earlier, the Lions lost one of the best wide receivers in the NFL in Calvin Johnson Jr. to retirement prior to the start of the season, and still have a fairly average offensive line. The Lions defense has stayed fairly similar to that of 2015, and not many additions were made to the team overall. Stafford has been able to make players like Marvin Jones and Theo Riddick into big play weapons, and Golden Tate has starred as Stafford’s favorite receiver. Despite injuries to tight end Eric Ebron, and running back Ameer Abdullah, Stafford has produced at a level capable of carrying a team to playoff contention. With a defense currently ranked 15th by ESPN, what Stafford has done to will his team to wins is remarkable.
This season, Stafford is averaging nearly career highs in almost every major passing category. With nearly career highs in completion percentage and Quarterback Rating, Stafford’s playmaking ability on the field has been phenomenal this season. In addition, Stafford currently has a career low in interceptions, and is unlikely to surpass his previous low of 12.
League wide, Stafford is in the top 10 in completion percentage, passing yards, and quarterback rating. While doing this, Stafford is also in the eighth most sacked quarterback in the NFL. This displays Stafford’s ability to produce under heavy pressure, and how he has remained composed and confident in the pocket all season long.
How He Compares
In comparison to other MVP candidates, he may seem inferior on the surface. Sure, players like Tom Brady and Matt Ryan have been more productive. Perhaps what Derek Carr has done to revive the Oakland Raiders is more impressive than Stafford and the Lions. However, the essential question is how valuable are these players to their respective teams. Without Matthew Stafford, the Lions would be nowhere near as successful as they have been this season. While other teams may be less successful without their star quarterback, they wouldn’t be as unsuccessful as the Lions without theirs. Stafford is everything for the Lions, and without him they would probably be in the cellar of the NFC North. Given all that he means for Detroit, he must be considered for the MVP Award.