NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 07: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions passes against the New Orleans Saints during their 2012 NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 7, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Pride of Detroit is counting down the top 10 Lions players of 2012, as voted on by readers of the site. More than 400 ballots were submitted, and today we are taking a look at the No. 2 player on the list.
No. 2 - QB Matthew Stafford - 4,259 points (168 first-place votes)
It was no secret that the top two spots on this list would come down to Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. They received the most points by far, and this makes sense considering they are the two most talented players on the team and two of the most important players on the roster.
In the end, Stafford was edged out by Johnson for the No. 1 spot. Stafford came in second with 4,259 points and 168 first-place votes. Every single one of the 457 ballots included Stafford, and he is amazingly the only player to pull off this feat. (There was one ballot that left off Megatron. Shame on you, person who forgot to put Megatron on your ballot.)
Even last year, Stafford probably would have been this high on the top 10 Lions list even though he hadn't played a full season. It was clear that if the Lions were finally going to return to the playoffs, Stafford would need to stay healthy. His potential was through the roof, and from the brief glimpses we got of a healthy Stafford in his first two seasons, it was evident that he had the ability to become an elite quarterback.
Stafford delivered on his promise to make it through the entire season in 2011, as he started every game for the Lions. He did have a finger issue that hurt his production for a few weeks in the middle of the season, but he played through the injury. It was going to take a lot more than that to sideline him after he was forced to miss 19 games in his first two seasons because of shoulder and knee problems.
Not only did Stafford get a full season under his belt in 2011, but he lived up to the hype on the field. He ended up throwing for 5,038 yards last season, and he had 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He put up numbers that will go down as some of the best in the history of the NFL, and if not for Drew Brees and Tom Brady also having a ridiculous season numbers-wise, Stafford's amazing performance probably would have received the proper amount of attention from fans and media across the NFL.
In 2012, the narrative about Stafford has changed quite a bit. While there are some people who still need to see him stay healthy for another season before silencing their injury concerns, the big question for most is this: Can Stafford put up similar numbers from his 2011 season in 2012? In all reality, the Lions would probably be better off if he doesn't have to throw the ball so much, as it would mean that they have a more balanced attack on offense. Then again, with Stafford being so talented and with there being so much talent around him, you want the ball in the hands of your best players. For the Lions, there's no doubt that their best players are Stafford and Johnson, who are second and first on the top 10 Lions of 2012.
|Top 10 Lions of 2012|
|1.||WR Calvin Johnson (281)||4,370 points|
|2.||QB Matthew Stafford (168)||4,259 points|
|3.||DT Ndamukong Suh (4)||2,981 points|
|4.||LB Stephen Tulloch||2,190 points|
|5.||DE Cliff Avril (1)||2,014 points|
|6.||TE Brandon Pettigrew||1,256 points|
|7.||S Louis Delmas||1,230 points|
|8.||WR Titus Young||1,024 points|
|9.||K Jason Hanson (1)||750 points|
|10.||RB Jahvid Best||747 points|