Re-Writing Ron Jaworski's QB Rankings: Why Matthew Stafford Was Disrespected

Nick Kostora@@nickkostoraContributor IIIJuly 17, 2012

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 23: Quarterbacks Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons and Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions shake hands after the game at Ford Field on October 23, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Falcons defeated the Lions 23-16.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Matthew Stafford is one of only four quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 5,000 yards in a season, yet according to ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, he is only the 14th-best QB playing today.

That's right, 5,000 yards and helping to fix the collective mess that was the Detroit Lions franchise has left Stafford ranked behind players like Tony Romo, Matt Schaub and Joe Flacco.

Should Stafford already be placed on the "elite" pedestal currently occupied by Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees?

Certainly not.

But even after only one full season, Stafford has proven his value as a top-10 quarterback in the NFL.

"Jaws'" main reason for the mid-level ranking seems to have stemmed from durability concerns:

 Another full season with similar production (as 2011), and there's no question Stafford is a top-10 quarterback. He's an elite arm talent. I just need to see durability and performance over a longer period of time.

2011 may have been the first time Stafford completed an entire season under center, but starting every game and playing through a serious hand injury should have helped to dispel any fragile notions.

The Lions' franchise quarterback has clearly overcome his early-career shoulder troubles and "glass arm" label, so durability is far from a legitimate reason to hold back his ranking.

And besides, if durability is such an important factor, how does Matt Schaub get the nod over Stafford?

Schaub is older (at 31 years old) and has battled injuries during the entirety of his reign as quarterback of the Houston Texans. Like Stafford, he has yet to win a playoff game, but then again, he has never thrown for 5,000 yards in a season.

Once you get past the questionable decision-making Jaws employed regarding durability, there are also the issues of hard facts and common sense.

How many NFL GMs are going to take Schaub, Joe Flacco, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan or Jay Cutler over Stafford right now?

Logic says one, two or three, if some of these QBs are lucky.

Flacco, for example, has averaged 3,454 passing yards and 20 touchdowns per season since becoming the Baltimore Ravens' starter four years ago.

Solid numbers? Yes.

Worthy of a top-10 (specifically No. 9, according to Jaws) ranking? Hardly.

Stafford's (admittedly small) body of work outdistances Flacco by leaps and bounds.

In his 29 career starts, the leader of the Honolulu Blue and Silver has averaged 270 passing yards per game and two touchdowns per contest.

Flacco averages a mere 215 yards passing per game and 1.25 touchdowns.

As for the other names mentioned above?

Stafford beats them out, too.

Player Games Played Passing Yards Per Game Touchdowns Per Game
Joe Flacco 64 215 1.25
Matt Ryan 62 229 1.5
Jay Cutler 78 234 1.8
Tony Romo 83 251 1.5
Matt Schaub 64 264 1.3
Matthew Stafford 29 270 2.0

Stafford may not have the longevity of some of these players, but already he is proving his ability to compete with the best the NFL has to offer.

Some may downplay the former Georgia Bulldog's stats because he has the game's most dynamic wideout in Calvin Johnson at his disposal.

This critique is both unbalanced and uneducated, as Stafford throws to a plethora of targets not nicknamed after Transformers.

A total of seven other Lions had at least 28 targets over the course of the 2011 season, and six players other than Johnson had at least 200 yards receiving.

Is "Megatron" Stafford's No. 1 option? Of course, but that does not mean he is the sole reason for Stafford's elite QB numbers this past season.

Jaws clearly sees the talent in Stafford, but he is afraid to rank him higher than No. 14 because of injury concerns that should no longer exist.

And while Stafford may need a (much) larger body of work and a decent playoff track record to enter into the top five, excluding him from the top 10 is a disservice to the entire premise of ranking NFL quarterbacks.


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