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Comparing Matthew Stafford’s record vs. winning teams to other NFL quarterbacks

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Taking another look at the longstanding Stafford vs winning teams narrative

NFL: Detroit Lions-Minicamp Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

It all starts with a tweet. That’s all it takes to get these wheels in motion. It was as if I was I was sleeper cell and this tweet was my code word. I woke up a day later in my office. Food all over the floor, empty Red Bull cans everywhere and statistics written all over the wall. It all starts with a tweet.

I must first address J.R. He is a good guy that just happened to get a lot of flack on Sunday after I addressed this tweet. I’m not sure J.R. was trying to make any kind of take here. This was simple observation. But it triggered my “quarterback wins is not a real stat” sense really hard.

Let me quickly touch on that, because it has a lot to do with today’s piece. Quarterback wins is not a real stat. It is frequently perpetuated by the media and some analysts here and there. But the majority of football fans, writers and analysts realize that football is a team game. There are 53 men on a roster that fill in 22 different positions over the course of a game.

I don’t care what the guy who blocks detractors for living says. I don’t care what this guy says.

Quarterback wins is not a real stat, for any quarterback and any time. In a good way or a bad way. It is not a real stat in a boat. It is not real stat in a moat.

But let’s say it was for a moment. Let’s play ball on this whole scenario. If quarterback wins were a real stat, what does it say about Matthew Stafford? And what does it say about some of the best quarterbacks in the league? Let’s jump into some stat stuff!

What does it say about Matthew Stafford?

Once again, if you’re willing to foolishly believe for a moment that one man can beat an entire football team by himself like he’s Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, then Matthew Stafford is a really bad quarterback.

When you look at the 5-46 stat, it looks like Matthew Stafford is incapable of beating teams that are better than .500. And if you’re inclined to believe that, then you’d have to believe that Stafford plays horrible against winning teams. But does the stats support that theory?

Matthew Stafford average against winning teams

Completions Attempts Comp % Yards Touchdowns INT
Completions Attempts Comp % Yards Touchdowns INT
23 39 59.2 268 1 1

That’s nowhere near as bad as you thought it would be, right? It’s not all that great either. I’m not sure the full story is told here. So I took out Stafford’s first two years that were a complete waste and started from 2011. Let’s see how that changes things.

Stafford average vs. winning teams (Excluding first 2 years)

Completions Attempts Comp % Yards Touchdowns INT
Completions Attempts Comp % Yards Touchdowns INT
24 40 60 283 1 0

A little better. What these stats show is Stafford’s play isn’t a gigantic train wreck in games against winning teams. It’s not super great either, but it’s not making the full difference between winning and losing.

Let’s see what a comparison would look like here. Let’s take Aaron Rodgers for example. How does Aaron play against winning teams?

Aaron Rodgers averages against winning teams

Completions Attempts Comp % Yards Touchdowns INT
Completions Attempts Comp % Yards Touchdowns INT
23 35 65.3 272 2 0

Yesterday I talked on my Twitter about finding some interesting things about Aaron Rodgers in my stat finding. This is it. What was interesting to me was that here’s a guy that’s considered to be the best quarterback in the league, and he doesn’t appear to do all that much in these games. Yeah he’s accurate, but for the most part, he’s plain Jane. A lot of games with one touchdown. That’s his style.

It’s not that it’s bad and I’m not knocking Rodgers, I just expected to see so much more here. In any event, it’s still better than Stafford.

Touching back on quarterback wins being fake

One important thing that I want to mention here is this: You can get the general idea of how the offense functions against winning teams, and it’s not all that bad. But take a look at the Lions defense against these teams.

Lions defensive averages against winning teams

Yards allowed Points allowed
Yards allowed Points allowed
365 26

That’s not good. Since 2009, the Lions have allowed 19,001 yards and 1,383 points to teams with records of .500 or better. I’m not saying that Matthew is off the hook, but it’s definitely a team game.

But what about other quarterbacks? Are they bad against winning teams?

If they are, There’s no doubt that Matthew may be one of the worst. Which is sad. But how does he compare to some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL? Well I decided to find out.

What I did was pick what I deem to be the top 5 quarterbacks in the NFL. Here’s their records against winning teams.

Top 5 quarterbacks vs. winning teams

Quarterback Wins Losses
Quarterback Wins Losses
Matthew Stafford 5 46
Aaron Rodgers 21 29
Tom Brady 50 33
Matt Ryan 17 22
Drew Brees 20 48
Russell Wilson 19 12

So you can see that Stafford is not alone when it comes to losing to winning teams. The internet and the media would have you believe otherwise, but here it is. Drew Brees, who I’ve compared Stafford to on a million occasions, has about what I think Stafford could end his career with. Brady is not human and Aaron Rodgers is meh.

We’re not done here though. Let’s split them up. Everyone loves to talk about Stafford on the road against winning teams. Is struggling to beat winning teams on the road just a Stafford problem?

Records vs. winning teams on the road

Quarterback Wins against on road Losses against on road
Quarterback Wins against on road Losses against on road
Matthew Stafford 1 25
Aaron Rodgers 6 20
Tom Brady 15 19
Matt Ryan 5 12
Drew Brees 5 18
Russell Wilson 8 8

This is clearly not just a Matthew Stafford problem. If you didn't know by now, it’s really hard to beat a team on the road. That’s regardless of whether they are a winning team or not. It’s just not an easy thing to do.

Again, I don’t mean to pile on Mr. Rodgers, but as you can see, he’s not too far ahead of Matthew in this realm. Russell Wilson and Tom Brady come out smelling like roses. Get used to that.

Let’s take a look at how these guys are in their own building.

Record vs. winning teams at home

Quarterback Wins against at home Losses against at home
Quarterback Wins against at home Losses against at home
Matthew Stafford 4 19
Aaron Rodgers 15 9
Tom Brady 35 14
Matt Ryan 12 10
Drew Brees 15 30
Russell Wilson 11 4

Man! Stafford really needs to get better at Ford Field. Beating winning teams at home doesn’t seem to be an issue for anyone other than Matthew Stafford. That sucks to hear if you’re a Lions fan.

At the end of the day

What did we learn today? The same thing we’ve known all of our lives, yet cannot apply to the NFL for some odd reason: Football is a team sport. It’s really easy to blame the guy on the team that makes the most money and plays the most important position.

How anyone can look at the Houston Texans of 2016 and think that quarterback wins is a real thing is far beyond my comprehension level.

Matthew Stafford deserves part of the blame. As does Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and so on and so forth. The one plus to consider is that Stafford is still young. And he has shown great improvement through the past few years. The other good news is that the Lions appear to be running like a successful organization for once. Instead of the usual Blockbuster video method that thy were running on for the better part of forever.

One has to wonder when guys like Don Muhlbach, who has graced the cover of Seventeen magazine by the way, will get the due that’s coming to them.