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Matthew Stafford vs. The Greats: Peyton Manning

Are Peyton Manning and Matthew Stafford one and the same? We analyze.

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NFL Honors And Pepsi Rookie Of The Year Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Pepsi

Here we are, Friday. It’s been four days and we’ve compared Matthew Stafford to three quarterbacks. To recap where we are now: Dan Marino and Stafford are little bit alike, Matthew Stafford is Brett Favre in a Matthew Stafford mask, and Tom Brady is so much better than Stafford that it makes me cry alone in my room to 80’s emo music.

Now we move on to the oldest man on the list. No, I’m not talking about Joe Montana. I’m talking about Peyton Manning. Say what you will about his real age, but I’m willing to bet this guy mows his lawn in khaki shorts with black socks pulled all the way up, New Balance 623’s and the best reel mower available at Sears.

Aside from that, there is a lot to compare here. Much like he was to Favre, Matthew Stafford is pretty comparable to Manning. Not so much in playing style, which we’ll get to, but in his journey through the NFL.

Allow me to elaborate. There was a time when Peyton Manning was the Matthew Stafford of the NFL. A young player that had the tools and did great things, but still was surrounded by questions. Manning received an unbelievable amount of criticism early in his career. This has all been completely and conveniently forgotten as time has passed.

If you ask football fans now, they’ll tell you Manning was a legend from Day 1. But then there are people like myself, and apparently Sean Keeley over at The Comeback, that remember when NFL analysts were saying Charlie Batch was the big rookie quarterback to come out of the 1998 NFL Draft.

Early on in 1998, as Manning and Leaf were struggling to learn the ropes of their respective teams, the unheralded Batch had come out of the gates guns blazing for the Detroit Lions. Batch had surprised everyone by leading the Lions to a 2-2 start, including an upset win over the mighty Green Bay Packers. Five weeks into the year he was seventh in the NFC in passing with 761 yards and four touchdowns. Given the all of the hype they had to put up with in the previous months, some sportswriters were more than happy to throw Manning and Leaf to the wayside to do some anointing of their own.

It wasn’t until Manning’s sixth year in the league when he finally started to break out like people thought he would. Conveniently, the year after the Colts had hired Jim Caldwell to be there quarterbacks coach. Stafford started to turn into the guy we’re seeing right now in his sixth year as well: The year the Lions hired Jim Caldwell. Oh yeah, I’m saying it again. Jim Caldwell is a quarterback whisperer.

Anyways, this isn’t the first time I’ve tried to link theses two. I’ve done it on multiple occasions and I probably will do it again after this, because I genuinely see Stafford as the new kid on the block that everyone looks down on until he’s mowing over defenses left and right.

That video has nothing to do with anything, but don’t you just love watching it?

Anyways, let’s just move onto the stats portion of the piece. If you’ve missed the first three pieces, I’ll say it again: This is not about saying anyone is better than anyone. It’s also not about team achievements. Quarterback wins is not a real stat.

The Stats

Stafford vs. Manning (Full career)

Quarterback Peyton Manning Matthew Stafford
Quarterback Peyton Manning Matthew Stafford
Completions 6,125 2,634
Attempts 9,380 4,285
Comp % 65 61.5
Yards 71,940 30,303
Touchdowns 539 187
INT 251 108
Rate 96.5 86.8

Here’s what we know: Manning has a ton of stats, but so does Stafford. I’ve made the argument on several occasions that Matthew Stafford may be the only active quarterback outside of Drew Brees that can break Peyton Manning’s passing yard record, and I believe he that he has a great shot at it too.

All he has to do is play until he’s 40, which is becoming more common with franchise quarterbacks these days. Because when you’re good at something, why stop doing it right? Stafford would have to average 4,163.7 yards a season for 10 more years. He’d be 39 years old. That doesn’t seem too hard since Stafford has surpassed 4,000 yards every year since 2011. He could do it. We’ll see what happens.

Stafford vs. Manning (First 8 years)

Quarterback Peyton Manning Matthew Stafford
Quarterback Peyton Manning Matthew Stafford
Completions 2,769 2,634
Attempts 4,333 4,285
Comp % 63 61.5
Yards 33,189 30,303
Touchdowns 244 187
INT 130 108
Rate 93.5 86.8

The first eight years doesn’t seem too different between these guys. Over 30,000 yards, check. Tons of interceptions, check. Tons of questions about winning on the road and blah blah blah, check.

It’s pretty clear that Manning is more accurate than Stafford despite the interception total. What I continue to find interesting is that Matthew Stafford has thrown for less touchdowns than almost all of these guys in his first eight years, yet he got the “guy who just chucks it down the field” moniker pasted on him for years.

On has to really wonder what Stafford’s career would look like had he not missed 19 games in his first two season, but then you have to be amazed in what Stafford has done in 19 less games than what Manning had in his first eight years.


These guys are nothing alike when it comes to style. Manning plays your classic “Hey, I’m Johnny Unitas and Hank Hill rolled up into one, and all I care about is standing in the pocket and being tall” kind of player.

While Stafford is more of a “Hey man, let’s put on some board shorts and tank tops and go down to the beach with my hat on backwards because we’re just inherently athletic for some reason” type of style.

There is nobody in this world that can explain what I’m talking about better than Abe Simpson. Take it away, Abe.

Thanks, Abe. What I’m trying to say is Manning wasn’t really about the risk. He was calculating and has a knowledge of the game that even Touchdown Tommy has to be jealous of. I mean “Omaha,” for crying out loud.

And as we know, Stafford will leave the pocket and throw off his back foot or throw the side arm and all that fancy stuff that Matthew Stafford does. That’s why if I were picking teams for flag football, I’d take Manning first over Stafford.

But then I would still be jealous at Stafford’s freak arm ability. Oh, here I go again talking about Matthew Stafford’s arm. Look, if you guys aren’t convinced that this dude has the best arm in the league, I don’t know what to tell you.


At the end of the day, While I think Brett Favre is more comparable to Stafford, I think Stafford’s story will be akin to Manning's: A No. 1 pick that looks like a bust until you find out that he’s not a bust at all. Like a reverse Lou Bega. Just when you think you’ll be Mambo number fiving for the rest of your life, you wake up one morning realizing you wasted all your money on zoot suits and hats with feathers in them.

I’m just trying to say that Stafford is pretty good and could be Peyton Manning good someday, if he’s not already. We’ll see.

Pride Of Detroit realizes that Peyton Manning is only 41 and likely uses a regular lawnmower. We however refuse to concede that he doesn’t wear old man shoes. Thank you for your time.

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