We’re now entering the late part of spring, which means it’s time for the annual position rankings to come out. Soon the NFL will drop their player-voted top 100 of 2020, while hundreds of publications (including this one) will release their top-10 lists for each major position in football.
Let this article be a reminder that if Matthew Stafford isn’t on your top 10 quarterbacks list this year, you’re doing it wrong.
Of course, if you landed on this page and aren’t a Detroit Lions fan, I’d understand your skepticism. “Lions fan calls Matthew Stafford a top-10 quarterback” isn’t exactly breaking news, and I’m sure you have some sort of snarky playoff wins comment ready in the chamber.
But let’s take a fairly objective look at this through a source that doesn’t have a dog in this fight: ESPN. Former NFL player turned ESPN analyst Matt Bowen took a closer look at their in-house stat QBR, and talked about the top performers from 2019. What did he find? Matthew Stafford ranked in the top five of nearly every QBR statistic. Take a look:
Vs. man coverage:
Top QBR vs. Man Coverage in 2019...— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) May 17, 2020
1. Lamar Jackson — 91.0
2. Deshaun Watson — 79.9
3. Derek Carr — 78.8
4. Drew Brees — 78.6
5. Matthew Stafford — 78.5 @NFLMatchup pic.twitter.com/ZFzMJqZsOt
Okay, dang. Let’s switch it up and show Stafford some zone. We’ve seen him throw some bad interceptions when he fails to see a defender drop back into zone. Surely this will work.
Top QBR vs. Zone Coverage in 2019...— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) May 17, 2020
1. Patrick Mahomes — 88.7
2. Russell Wilson — 84.5
3. Matthew Stafford — 77.6
4. Lamar Jackson — 74.7
5. Drew Brees — 72.5 @NFLMatchup pic.twitter.com/azhtzq7NGP
Dangit. Okay, well then. You leave us no choice, Matthew. We’re sending the house. There’s no way you can beat us with pressure coming at.... oh no:
More QB numbers from ‘19...— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) May 17, 2020
QBR vs. the blitz (5 or more rushers)
1. Derek Carr — 95.9
2. Lamar Jackson — 92.4
3. Patrick Mahomes — 90.5
4. Matthew Stafford — 87.4
5. Kirk Cousins — 86.1
Carr also ranked No.1 in Comp% (71.6) & YPA (11.11) vs. the blitz. @NFLMatchup pic.twitter.com/BGDGErPCYY
The only other quarterback to land on all three lists was Lamar Jackson—the NFL’s 2019 MVP.
There was a list that Stafford did not land on when it comes to QBR. He was not among the top five passers in red zone QBR.
Of course, anyone who paid attention to QBR last year probably knows much of this already. Stafford finished sixth overall in the statistic, though it’s obviously worth pointing out he played in just eight games all season.
But maybe QBR isn’t your thing. After all, it’s unclear exactly how ESPN came up with this statistic, and they aren’t exactly transparent in how it works. But all you have to do is look at any other traditional stat, and it will show you Stafford was phenomenal last year: eighth in PFF grade (82.6), second in yards per attempt (8.6), sixth in passer rating (106.0), fourth in touchdown percentage (6.5), 12th in interception percentage (1.7).
So, please, adjust your top-10 lists accordingly.