No, the title of this article is not a typo. Matthew Stafford better than Matt Ryan? Matthew “Never Won a Playoff Game” Stafford better than MVP Matt Ryan? Yes, I understand, but please hear me out. As I compare these two I look at individual talent and who I would want to lead my team. An incredible supporting cast can make any quarterback appear elite.
Why Matthew Stafford is Superior to Matt Ryan
Matthew Stafford has been less than fortunate so far in his career as far as his supporting cast goes. As far as offense goes, Stafford has to do everything by himself. For the past five years, the Detroit Lions running game been absolutely beyond abysmal. Not only have the Lions not had a 1,000-yard rusher in a season, a Lions player hasn’t even eclipsed 100 yards in a game since 2013. On the other side of things, Matt Ryan has played two elite running backs in Michael Turner and DeVonta Freeman.
In Ryan’s rookie year, Michael Turner ran for an astounding 1,699 yards, while Stafford’s running back, Kevin Smith, ran for 747 yards. The latter is certainly decent, but those numbers leave much to be desired. Granted, Stafford’s had some excellent pieces in the past, but not to the extent that Matt Ryan has had.
During his tenure with the Lions, Stafford’s teammates (and himself) have combined for 15 Pro Bowl Appearances. On the other side of things, Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons have a staggering 38 Pro Bowl appearances. Ryan was drafted only one season prior to Stafford, so experience is not much of a factor. Not only has Matt Ryan been blessed with superior teammates, but also with a superior coaching staff as well. While Stafford has been forced to play under the tutelage of Jim Schwartz and Jim Caldwell, Matt Ryan has enjoyed being coached under NFL Coach of the Year Mike Smith and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who propelled the Falcons to the number one ranked offense.
A direct comparison of the numbers shows Matt Ryan isn’t much better at anything than Matthew Stafford, except for tossing fewer interceptions each season. In fact, there are several seasons in which Matthew Stafford had a definitively better year than Matt Ryan.
According to Pro Football Reference, Stafford threw for 400 more yards, 9 more touchdowns, and 2 less interceptions than Ryan in 2017, who was fresh off his MVP Season. In 2015, while Stafford had 300 less passing yards, he threw 11 more touchdowns and 3 fewer interceptions than Ryan. In 2011, one year removed from a shoulder injury, Stafford tossed 4 more picks but certainly makes up for it. He threw 12 more TD’s than Ryan, and becomes only one of five quarterbacks to ever throw for over 5,000 yards in a season.
So often a team’s success will overshadow the mediocrity of any given quarterback, and it’s unfair. This is unfair to vastly talented quarterbacks who aren’t credited because their teammates can’t get it done. Stafford is severely underrated because of his teammate’s often subpar performances.
While Ryan’s peak is higher than Stafford’s, Stafford has consistently done more with fewer pieces around him. Stafford already performs at such a high level, just imagine how much success he and his team could attain if he were given all the parts Matt Ryan has. Matt Stafford is constantly forced to drag his team up and down the field like rag dolls. Since his teammates can’t quite get it done, he is never given the credit he deserves. Matt Stafford has shown time and time again he can put up impressive numbers. If the NFL is doing a re-draft and I’m on the clock deciding between Matt Stafford and Matt Ryan, Matt Stafford is far and away the correct choice to be making.
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