Edson: Is Stafford Building A Hall-of-Fame Resume?

Another Sunday, another come-from-behind Detroit Lions victory engineered by quarterback Matthew Stafford.

I say that with a firm tongue-in-cheek about the Detroit Lions, who needed a big fourth quarter comeback on Sunday to beat the Los Angeles Rams, 31-28.

But I’m not kidding about Stafford. Week after week, he’s the main reason the Lions are still competitive. Even though it’s easy to blame the quarterback for a football team’s misfortunes, that’s not the case with Stafford.

He is slowly building a Hall-of-Fame resume, the kind of numbers that will be just too impressive to ignore after he retires, which is a long way down the road.

But in checking the numbers, Stafford already holds most of the Lions career passing records. (OK, that doesn’t impress you, I know.)

To take it to another level, by the time Stafford does retire, he will likely be in the top dozen in many NFL career passing categories. Factor in his almost-Favre like toughness and his reputation among his peers, and you might be looking at a career that could end up in Canton, Ohio.

Of course, we know all about the Hall of Fame quarterbacks who have won Super Bowls – guys like Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach. But the Hall also has its share of solid quarterbacks who never won Super Bowls – guys like Dan Marino, Fran Tarkenton and Sonny Jurgenson.

Comparing quarterbacks in different eras is like comparing apples and oranges. I get that. But I’ve been following the NFL since the early 1960s and I’m convinced with four or five more solid seasons, Stafford will work his way into the Hall of Fame conversation.

Right now nobody is talking about it. That’s because the Lions seem to be living from week-to-week just to survive as a playoff contender.

Sunday was no different. The Lions defense was facing one of the NFL’s worst offenses. The Rams came into the game averaging a mere 16 points a game. The Lions not only gave up 28 points, but made journeyman quarterback Case Keenum look like a Hall of Famer. He completed 27-of-32 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns.

But when the Lions needed to rally, Stafford stepped up… again. He ended up throwing four touchdown passes to four different receivers and completing 23-of-31 passes for 270 yards. He also made some tough runs to get much-needed first downs, showing a moxie most NFL quarterbacks don’t have.

When Stafford gets criticized after a loss, it’s mainly because some fans don’t recognize the failures of his supporting cast. Does he have bad games? Sure. But he has become one of the NFL’s most consistent signal-callers over the last five years.

Despite that, you could make the case that Detroit Lions fans take Matthew Stafford for granted. I think we’re all guilty of that.

But before you disown him after a Lions loss – and since we’re Lions fans we know those losses are coming – please consider that Stafford is the main reason Detroit has even battled back to be a .500 team at this point (3-3).

Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.