The NFL has become a passing league. It is no wonder that quarterbacks are paid big money, given that they not only supply the ammunition but also take the blows; in some cases, you might as well put a target on them.
The latest signal caller to earn some big money via a contract extension is Detroit Lions on-field general, Matt Stafford. His new payday is worth $41.5 million in guaranteed money and that puts him seventh in the list for current quarterback contracts.
Is Stafford worth the money though?
From a statistical standpoint, the answer has to be ‘yes’. The numbers he has put up are impressive.
In his first four seasons (2009-12), Stafford has averaged almost 285 yards passing per game. In NFL history, only Kurt Warner (287.5) averaged more passing yards per game in his first four seasons.
But you can see how he benefits from the type of offense that the Lions play. He has dropped back more often (67.5 percent) than any other player in the past two seasons. As a result, Stafford has recorded nearly 100 more total dropbacks than the next highest quarterback: Drew Brees of the Saints.
In 2012, Stafford set a single-season NFL record for pass attempts with 727. However, due to poor red zone production from the Lions, he threw just 20 TD passes – which was 21 fewer than he did in 2011.
Even though Stafford has put up big numbers, and led the Lions in 2011 to their first playoff appearance since 1999, you can assume a lot of his numbers have come in games the Lions have lost. There are plenty of ‘garbage yards’ picked up when teams are playing a soft defense and protecting a lead.
Analysts who question whether Stafford is worth the money point to this statistic often; overall, Stafford is 17-28 as the Lions starting QB. However, against teams that finished the season with a winning record, Stafford is 1-22. That is the worst win percentage since 2009 against teams to finish the season with a winning record. The Lions obviously have faith in the one set of numbers with regard to Stafford but NFL betting pundits can
point to plenty of flaws in the statistics.
This season could go a long way to telling us who is right and which set of stats to believe, as the Lions compete in the tough NFC North division.
The latest NFL betting odds suggest
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that a lot of the pressure will be on Stafford to prove that he is worth that money – and that the numbers are not lying about his true ability.