NFL Insiders on Matthew Stafford: ‘There is something missing’

If you ask ESPN’s panel of NFL experts, Matthew Stafford is still a second tier quarterback. This is according to’s yearly poll (ESPN insider only) taken by a panel of anonymous NFL personalities, which graded each starting QB. Among the people who were polled are eight personnel directors, six general managers, four head coaches, five offensive coordinators, five defensive coordinators, three salary cap managers, two former general managers, two former head coaches, and one offensive assistant coach.

Here is a brief summary of the criteria they used when grading each quarterback:

-Tier 1 quarterbacks can carry their teams week after week and contend for championships without as much help.
-Tier 2 QBs are less consistent and need more help, but good enough to figure prominently into a championship equation.
-Tier 3 are quarterbacks who are good enough to start but need lots of support, making it tougher to contend at the highest level.
-Tier 4 is typically reserved for unproven starters or those who might not be expected to last in the lineup all season.

Among the knocks on Stafford:

“Stafford could be like Aaron Rodgers if he had the burning passion and if he had Mike McCarthy from day one,” was one critique.

“You look in Stafford’s eyes and it’s like gym class. It’s like ‘I hope we win, I think we are pretty good,’ as opposed to ‘I am going to rip your throat out’,” was another.

This was the second consecutive year Stafford earned the “second tier” rating while he moved up a spot from 13th to 12th from last year. He shared the 12th overall ranking with Eli Manning.

Six quarterbacks received the “tier one” rating: Rodgers, Peyton ManningTom BradyAndrew LuckBen Roethlisberger, and Drew Brees.

Of Stafford, another GM said:

“Stafford is ahead of Andy Dalton and Alex Smith because he is more gifted, but there is an element where he is either about to become a 2 or he can fall into the (Jay) Cutler category, not because of intangibles necessarily but because there is something missing.”

For the sake of comparisons, Cutler, Smith and Dalton all received third tier ratings. Eight quarterbacks ended up in the fourth tier while none were considered bad enough to be tagged as a fifth tier.

Here is a statistical breakdown from the past four years of two of the tier one quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Drew Brees:

Tom Brady: 18,514 yards, 131 touchdowns, 40 interceptions.

Drew Brees: 20,767 yards, 161 touchdowns, 62 interceptions.

Just for laughs, let’s look at how Stafford’s last four years have compared.

Matthew Stafford: 18,912 yards, 112 touchdowns, 64 interceptions.

As you can see, the stats show that Stafford is not on the same level as the first tier QB’s. Let’s dig deeper, and take a look at the last four seasons for Eli Manning, the man who Stafford shared 12th place with.

Eli Manning: 17,109 yards, 103 touchdowns, 72 interceptions.

1,803 more yards, nine more touchdowns, and eight fewer interceptions for Stafford.

Are we to believe that Stafford and Eli Manning are equally as good or important to their team? The tier ratings would lead us to believe so, but I think not. Personally, I question some of the tangibles that are considered when coming up with these ratings. I haven’t seen “the look in his eyes” on any scouting reports. I would also like to see past accomplishments have more of an emphasis. Am I saying Stafford should be thought of as one of the best? No, not by any means, but he should be considered closer to the tier one/tier two line.

What are your thoughts, nation? Where does Stafford rightfully belong on this list: A solid tier two, a borderline tier one/tier two, or a borderline tier two/tier three?

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