Now that the NFL has reached its midpoint, many analysts use the opportunity to assess the current state of the NFL, whether it's with report cards, midseason MVPs or in sadder cases: worst-player lists. For the Detroit Lions, the status quo of the team dictates a lot of failing grades, limited accolades and lots of sad, sad stats. Pro Football Focus added to the heap of depression by releasing their list of worst graded players at each position this year. The Lions had two players don the list: offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle and quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Waddle's inclusion on the list is no surprise. The Lions' right tackle position has been an absolute mess, and Waddle has been a big part of that entire unit's failure this season. According to PFF, he has given up five sacks and 24 hurries.
However, the fact that Stafford made the list is very surprising. Obviously, Stafford has not had a good year, but the absolute worst in the NFL? Worse than benched Colin Kaepernick or whoever is playing quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys this week? Here is PFF's rationalization:
His offensive line has been bad, no doubt about it, and he’s been pressured on 39 percent of his dropbacks.
But even when he isn’t faced with pressure, he’s averaging just 7.8 yards-per-attempt (YPA) and has thrown just one more touchdown than interceptions (seven to six). Any throw over 10 yards in the air is an adventure, as he’s completed just 48 percent of those passes, with an equal amount of touchdowns (six) and interceptions. It was just two years ago that Stafford was our sixth-highest graded quarterback. Safe to say, he won’t be there this season.
I just can't agree with this assessment here. Stafford has been bad this year, and even accounting for a bad offensive line, I think it's fair to say he's been a below-average quarterback. But there is no way he has been the worst at the position. There are quarterbacks with a worse yards per attempt, worse touchdown-to-interception ratios and much worse passer ratings. Here's a stats comparison between Stafford and some of the worst starting quarterbacks this season:
|Completion %||Yards per attempt||TD||INT||Passer rating||Sacks|
Stafford measures out better than all five of those quarterbacks listed in almost every stat, and yes, that includes Peyton Manning.
Obviously, the fact that we are comparing Stafford to the league's worst quarterbacks is a sign that his season has gone horribly, horribly wrong. Would he top the list of most disappointing quarterbacks this season? Maybe (although you could probably make a stronger argument for Manning). But calling Stafford the worst quarterback in the league is absurd right now.