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Only 2 quarterbacks have been better than Stafford since Week 2

Why Stafford is back on track after a very bad start to the season.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Is it just me, or are we not even thinking about Matthew Stafford in 2018? For so long, the constant force for the Lions has always been No. 9. You knew that as long as Stafford had a good game, the Lions had a chance to win. Things are different today.

What’s hot right now is rookie running back Kerryon Johnson and the fact that the Lions are able to not just run the ball, but run it really well. We also find ourselves talking about this offensive line that’s opening the holes and keeping Stafford on his feet at a rate that has never been seen in this town. I mean look at this block.

Of course we’re focusing on this. Look at it again. I’ll wait.

There’s so much going on right now and the Lions are winning. Why aren’t we talking about the quarterback? Frankly, I’m okay with it, because for the first time in forever, I’m starting to see what it’s like to have other exciting weapons that don’t have anything to do with Stafford. It feels great, but we should still check in with Matthew to see how he’s doing.

If there was ever a horse that Lions fans beat to death and then resuscitated only to beat to death again, it was the idea that Matthew Stafford, an already good quarterback, could be even better with a run game and an offensive line. Hell, I even wrote about that over the offseason when I said these were the two biggest things the Lions needed to fix to be contenders.

But is there any proof to that theory? Is Matthew Stafford having a good year? If you look at the stats, you’ll see that Matthew has thrown for 1,602 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. That’s good, but not great. However, there’s more to this story.

In Week 1, Matthew had one of the worst games of his career. He threw for 286 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions in a horrible loss to the Jets. The sky appeared to be falling for Matt Patricia and the Lions, especially after a disconcerting preseason. I wasn’t sure that I could recover, and Lions fans think I’m the biggest slappy in the world when I write positive stuff.

Here’s the thing: To understand how good Stafford has been this year, you have to pretend that game never happened. When you do that, you’ll see that only two quarterbacks have been better than Stafford since Week 2. Don’t worry. I’ll explain.

Drew Brees is having one hell of a season. Did you guys know that he hasn’t thrown a single interception in 2018? Since Week 2, he’s been as money as it gets. He’s thrown for 1,431 yards, 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He’s completing 76 percent of his passes and has a passer rating of 118.5. If we’re not talking about Drew in the MVP discussion, I really don’t know what we’re doing here.

Then there’s Matt Ryan. Despite the Falcons woes, Ryan has been on fire. Since Week 2, he’s thrown for 2,084 yards, 15 touchdowns and one interception. He’s completing 75.4 percent of his passes and has a passer rating of 125.3. He’s another guy that should be in that MVP discussion.

Then there’s a bevy of quarterbacks like Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins and Carson Wentz. These guys have all been great. They’re all completing their passes at a rate of 70 percent or more. They’re all also throwing plenty of touchdown passes. but, with the exception of Wentz, they’ve turned the ball over a lot since Week 2.

Which takes us to why Stafford comes in at three. Since Week 2, Stafford has thrown for 1,316 yards, 11 touchdowns and one interception. He’s completed 70% of his passes and has a passer rating of 112.8. Is it time to add him to that MVP conversation too? We’ll have to pump the breaks. Here’s why.

Despite Stafford performing really well in the time frame, there are just too many guys close to him right now. Here, take a look at the stats.

Top quarterbacks since Week 2

Player Passing Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Completion % Rate
Player Passing Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Completion % Rate
Drew Brees 1,431 10 0 76 118.5
Matt Ryan 2,084 15 1 75.4 125.3
Matthew Stafford 1,316 11 1 70 112.8
Carson Wentz 1,247 9 0 71.5 113.6
Jared Goff 1,897 12 5 72.4 115.5
Kirk Cousins 1,918 12 3 71.9 102.7

There’s an easy argument to make here for Wentz. He’s been more accurate and he hasn’t turned the ball over... Or has he? Sure he hasn’t thrown any interceptions this year, but he has fumbled six times and lost four of those. That’s not good. Stafford has fumbled only twice this year and lost just one of those.

Both Goff and Cousins have clearly thrown more interceptions despite being more accurate in terms of completion percentage. Add seven fumbles and two lost to Cousins’ record and four fumbles and two lost to Goff’s and you see why I put Stafford where I did.

So he’s accurate with his passes, he’s scoring and he’s protecting the ball. He’s also only been sacked 10 times compared to 23 at this time last year. The idea that a run game and a good offensive line makes Stafford better checks out at this point in the season.

But the reason I don’t throw him in the MVP conversation just yet is the same reason everyone else won’t either. Perception is everything, and right now, the Lions are 3-3 and tied for last place in the best division in football. While I despise quarterback wins and I know it means nothing, I’m smart enough to know that the Lions have to keep winning before Stafford can have MVP put next to his name in articles. I’m also crazy enough to think that we’re going to see this happen very soon if Stafford and the Lions keep this up.

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