MIKE O'HARA

Is perception reality? Matthew Stafford falls 35 places in the NFL's top 100 players of 2013

Posted May 10, 2013

Detroitlions.com columnist Mike O'Hara takes a look at the last two seasons for quarterback Matthew Stafford and whether his performance warranted a ranking shift from No. 41 in 2012 to No. 76 in 2013

Matthew Stafford’s rating from his peers in the NFL has fluctuated a lot like the stock market.
Matthew StaffordQB Matthew Stafford

Whether it’s based on perception or reality, the gains and losses in important statistical categories ultimately determine a player’s rating, and Stafford is no exception.

Stafford is ranked 76th in the top 100 players of 2013 in a poll of current players. The NFL Network releases 10 players every Thursday night, and this week’s list was for players ranked 71-80.

Stafford’s 2013 rating fell 35 places from his 2012 rating of 41.

Two other Lions are expected to be in the top 100. Last year, Calvin Johnson was No. 3, and Ndamukong Suh was No. 38.

As for Stafford, if he were a stock should you buy, sell or hold? Did he soar like a penny stock in the dot.com bubble of the 1990s, then crash to earth? Or is he a blue-chip investment to be kept for the long haul, without reacting to trends that affect the quarterback market?

Stafford’s talent, the fact that he just turned 25 and already has played four NFL seasons, and the resume he has compiled already indicate that he’s much closer to a blue-chip rating than a penny stock. Stafford is the Lions’ quarterback of the present and the long-term future.

When Stafford spoke to the media recently after reporting for the offseason workout program, he put into perspective what stats and ratings mean to him. The biggest decline for him was in TD passes – from 41 in 2011 to 2012.

“We lost some guys on the receiving corps, but that’s going to happen,” Stafford said.

“There were times we got it down inside the five. We had more rushing touchdowns last year than we did the year before, which was a positive. I’m fine with that.

“As a team, I want to score. I don’t care how we get in the end zone. I don’t care if I run it in.”

Stafford evaluated his overall performance last year without rating it.

“I can’t give you a letter or a number, but I think there were definitely plays that I missed, plays that I made,” he said. “There were times that I could have made better decisions and times where I felt I made good ones. You learn from the good and the bad.”

The top 100 ratings are based on a player’s stats the previous season, and Stafford and the Lions suffered steep declines in 2012 vs. 2011 in the following areas:

Passing yards: 4,967 for Stafford in 2012 -- second to league-leader Drew Brees’ total of 5,177 -- compared to 5,038 in 2011.

TD passes: 20 in 2012, less than half of the 41 he threw in 2011.

Completion percentage and passer rating: Both down for Stafford – 59.8 percent and 79.8 rating in 2012, 63.5 percent and 97.2 rating in 2011.

Stafford had gains in these two areas:

Interceptions: 16 in 2012, one fewer than his total of 17 in 2011; and on 727 pass attempts in 2012, compared to 663 in 2011.

Rushing TDs: four in 2012, compared to three in his first three seasons combined.

Bottom line, won-lost record: Red ink for the team in the most important category of all. The Lions were 10-6 and made the playoffs as a wild card in 2011. Last year, they finished last in the NFC North with a 4-12 record and ended the season with an eight-game losing streak.