Why Matthew Stafford is a Legitimate MVP Candidate

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Matthew Stafford Could be a Dark-horse Candidate for MVP trophy

Majority of Detroit Lions fans have seen it. Coaches have taught him. Players have played with him. Now finally, the world is exposed to his ability.

Matthew Stafford is a legit candidate for the MVP trophy in 2016.

Now all of the Stafford haters can laugh and think this opinion is crazy, but maybe the data you will consume will get you to think differently. In the past, we here at Detroit Lions Podcast have talked about Stafford being a top 10 quarterback in the NFL, and have shown him some love. Stafford haters and many Lions fans questioned how he would fair without Calvin Johnson, asking if he would be fine without him. Well, you will have to wait and see what that answer is in a few weeks. For now, the focus is on Stafford in the MVP race.

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MVP Talk for Stafford Already?

It is early in the season no doubt with six games down, but it is also almost the halfway point where these discussions can start around the league and players start comparing one to another. The MVP is awarded based on play during the season, and Stafford is having a solid year so far.

He has a 68.9% completion percentage (career high), 1,648 yards with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. This year he already also has three fourth quarter comebacks and game winning drives. This is all with a young offensive line who is still having issues, without Calvin Johnson, without the top two tight ends in Eric Ebron and Brandon Pettigrew and no help in the running game with Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington all hurt.

Another thing that has made Stafford a MVP candidate is the new element to his game. Stafford isn’t a dual threat quarterback by any means. He isn’t a straight up pocket passing quarterback either. His career high in carries came last year as he rushed 44 times for 159 yards and a touchdown. This year Stafford has 19 carries for 94 yards. Now Detroit isn’t running any option plays, but Stafford has to run at times either due to the pocket collapsing or the coverage has given him nobody to throw it too. Stafford did lose 10-15 pounds this offseason, so that has made him quicker and given him an ability to run with the ball if needed and it has paid off many times.

Looking back at the mistakes Stafford has made this year, along with his team, and you could see even better numbers if those mistakes didn’t happen. The Lions have the most drops in the NFL with 14, and if even some of those were caught, his stats could look even better than they already do now. Two of Stafford’s interceptions were because of receivers running the wrong route, something you can’t blame him for. Another one was stripped out of Ebron’s hands and the final interception was clearly his fault. His team was in a late game situation and he tried to force a pass that was picked off.

The possible MVP winner has had touchdowns taken away from him. An example is the two he threw against the Titans that were called back because of penalties. He could have 15 touchdowns and more yards to go along with it. Another thing to look at is the opponents he has faced. He did well against the Packers and Eagles, who are ranked seventh and sixth in defense in the league, but sadly the Lions defense couldn’t win them the game in Green Bay. The other two losses were to the 10th ranked defense in Tennessee and the 13th ranked defense in Chicago. Those losses were because of penalties and drops (the Chicago game was a team effort loss as it wasn’t Stafford’s best game, but the finger can’t be pointed at him entirely.)

Now with his performance lately with a team with no rushing attack and a weak offensive line, Stafford is getting some national attention. Golden Tate said on Friday “It’s about time Stafford got some respect.” Check out what Good Morning Football had to say about Stafford.

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How Stafford Compares to the Other MVP Candidates

There has to be a comparison for Stafford. This MVP race isn’t just him, as there are some other players who are doing well around the league who could end up winning it over Stafford. Right now though, Stafford has a 100-1 chance of winning the MVP race according to Las Vegas. While he isn’t in first right now, he could end up winning it in the end.

Looking at the other quarterbacks around the league, Stafford is in the top tier category. Aaron Rodgers is having a poor season and Cam Newton isn’t what he was last year. Tom Brady is coming off his suspension and is going on a tear, but it wouldn’t be fair to compare his stats just yet. Only two quarterbacks have more touchdowns than Stafford and that is Ben Roethlisberger with 16, who will be out four to six weeks so his chances are gone, and Matt Ryan with 15. Matt Ryan is having a better season so far, with 2,075 yards, 15 touchdowns and only three interceptions on two less attempts than Stafford. Drew Brees is doing well also, getting 1,734 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. Both of these quarterbacks though have a rushing attack that can execute, which means there job is even easier than Stafford’s. Stafford is doing this with a little help from the rushing attack, but it is nothing compared to the Falcons or Saints.

Looking at running backs who have a chance to win the MVP and that charge is lead by the same player who is leading the charge in the rookie of the year category in Ezekiel Elliot. Elliot has 703 yards on 137 carries for five touchdowns, along with 11 catches for 98 yards. David Johnson is another threat in the race, getting 568 rushing yards on 113 carries for eight touchdowns, and catching the ball 20 times for 265 yards. Finally, another threat is LeSean McCoy who has 587 yards and six on just 104 carries, along with 20 catches for 97 yards and a touchdown. McCoy is dealing with a hamstring issue, so his chances may go down if he misses time.

Receivers in the NFL aren’t that dominant compared to the other positions. Julio Jones is leading the league in receiving with 31 catches for 656 yards and four touchdowns. Antonio Brown does league the lead in receiving touchdowns with five, but is ranked number 11 in yards with 486. Greg Olsen is a possible dark horse candidate as well with 39 catches for 610 yards and two touchdowns. Finally AJ Green has 42 catches for 606 yards and two touchdowns. The only real threat here is Julio Jones, but Greg Olsen could sneak in as well.

Defensive players who have a shot are cornerback Marcus Peters who has a league leading five interceptions and 14 pass deflections, along with a combined 17 tackles. Von Miller is doing well again with a combined 26 tackles, seven and a half sacks and a forced fumble. Lorenzo Alexander is a dark horse candidate on the defensive side who leads the league in sacks with eight, along with a combined 30 tackles.

So overall, Stafford’s only real competition is with Matt Ryan, Ezekiel Elliot, Drew Brees and Julio Jones. For him to continue his MVP type of season, he is going to have to lead this team like he never has before.

He has made this team better with his fantastic throwing power and accuracy. Now though, he will need to show off even more of what he can do with his feet and arm if the rushing game can’t come back healthy, and the offensive line doesn’t gel.

Matt Stafford is finally getting the attention that he deserves, and it could end up with him telling all the people who doubted him “I told you so.”

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @BKnappBlogs, find me on Reddit at /u/sportsguy4life and share your thoughts on the Detroit Lions subreddit.

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About the Author

Brandon Knapp
Brandon Knapp is a senior at Central Michigan University, majoring in Journalism, minoring in Sports Management. He was born and raised in the city of Marysville, MI. He also writes for myfantasysportstalk.com and covers the Michigan Wolverines Football team (his other love). Brandon also enjoys watching the Detroit Red Wings, Pistons and Tigers.