Photo Credit: Tommy Williams

It’s clear that Matthew Stafford has improved drastically in the last few years. National media outlets have even gone so far as to discuss his candidacy for NFL MVP earlier this season for his play. Under offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, Stafford has seen his performance greatly improve, especially in efficiency.

Jim Caldwell must receive some credit for turning a once turnover prone QB into a very efficient one. Stafford’s touchdown-to-turnover ratio went from 1.43 in his first four years to  2.23 in the three years since Caldwell took over the Lions. Completion percentage have also greatly improved for Stafford after he posted three sub-60% seasons in his first four years. In the three years under Caldwell, No. 9 has had completion percentages of 60.3% in 2014, 67.2% in 2015, and 65.3% in 2016.

The numbers back the conjecture that Matthew Stafford has seen a career resurgence. The real question becomes what must Stafford do to create an exclamation point on his revival?

The answer is simple really: a playoff victory.

While the numbers back Stafford making strides in the regular season, his history in the playoffs is a different story. In the regular season, Stafford has stopped with his turnover issues but has committed five turnovers in two playoff appearances. His completion percentage and overall yardage look good on paper, the turnovers are concerning and will prove even more problematic if Stafford reverts to his old ways in Seattle.

If Stafford really wants to turn a corner, he will need to take care of the ball better than he has in his previous two playoff appearances. His play against higher level competition has also come into question but a Seattle team without Earl Thomas and a lackluster offense could be just the opportunity #9 needs.

In order for many to really turn to team Stafford, he will have to show he has truly made the strides many believe he has under Jim Bob Cooter and Jim Caldwell. There is no better opportunity than against the Legion of Boom. A road playoff victory against one of the most vaunted secondaries in the NFL would boost Stafford’s credibility and make his inevitable payday easier to swallow.

We are all rooting for No. 9, but it’s time he came through when it really matters most.