When a Hall of Famer and four-time Super Bowl player speaks, you listen. That player speaking is former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, who believes that Matthew Stafford’s best days as quarterback for the Detroit Lions are still ahead of him.
“I think he’s got a great career ahead of him,” said Montana. “I really thought they had a big chance to come in and be somewhere closer to the game than they got. But his days are ahead of him still.”
Montana of course is referring to this past season and the Lions losing a tough game to the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs.
Stafford is now 0-2 in his playoff career and many question whether or not he can win the big games. After all, he has never won on the road against a team that ended the season with a winning record. In fact, he is now 0-17 in such games. Ultimately, quarterbacks are judged on playoff victories, something that Montana knows a lot about. In comparison, at this point in his career, Montana had already won seven playoff games and two Super Bowls.
That being said, the NFL legend is a big fan of Stafford’s game and does not feel that the Lions’ woes in big games are all his fault.
“Sometimes it’s not what (Stafford) can do — because he played pretty well — it’s just a matter of everybody doing what they’re supposed to do together at the same time. It’s a team thing that gets you here.”
To Stafford’s defense, the Lions had one of the worst running attacks in the NFL last season and that can really impact the passing game. Stafford did manage to complete 60% of his passes for the 2nd time in his career. Though this is still a touch below the top tier quarterbacks, it is a step in the right direction. He also cut his interceptions down to 12 last year, a huge improvement from previous years.
Getting to the Super Bowl, much less winning it, is not an easy thing to do, this is something that Montana acknowledged.
“It’s hard to get to (the Super Bowl),” said Montana. “You can see how the Seahawks got here. I mean, c’mon, look at the (recovered onside kick) that puts ’em here. If you do your job, they’re not here. The guy’s supposed to block, and goes after the ball. Let the guy behind him catch it. But you have to have things go your way.”
Stepping up his game against good teams is what Stafford needs to do if he wants to turn the corner and become the quarterback that many expect him to be. During the 2014 season, he led the offense to 20.1 points per game, almost a touchdown less than in 2013. To make matters worse, they only scored 12.2 points per game against teams that made the playoffs, once again speaking to his lack of performance against good teams.
Matthew Stafford was the first pick in the 2009 NFL draft and has yet to live up to expectations. Hopefully Joe Montana is correct when he says that Stafford’s best days are still ahead of him, because if they are not, the patience within Lions nation will run out.