Now, to be completely honest, I did not necessarily think Stafford would win the award in his first season with a new team as I figured it would take some time for things to really gel. That being said, Stafford, other than his latest debacle against the Tennessee Titans, has been absolutely brilliant and he is on his way to winning the award given to the most valuable player in the NFL.
In an article recently published on ESPN, writer Bill Barnwell breaks down the candidates for the 2021 NFL MVP award at the midway point of the season and Stafford, at least in his eyes, is on the inside track to take home the hardware.
Here is what Barnwell has to say about Stafford and why he believes he is currently the frontrunner to be named the NFL MVP in 2021.
Well, this is awkward. Stafford just had his worst game of the season on Sunday night, throwing a terrible pick in his own end zone to set up one Titans interception before tossing a pick-six to Kevin Byard on his next pass attempt. It's hardly an exaggeration to suggest that he handed the Titans the game; Tennessee averaged 3.5 yards per play on offense and had only two drives top 30 yards. The Los Angeles offensive line struggled badly against Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry on the interior, but Stafford simply didn't make smart decisions with the football.
Even after you account for that dismal performance, though, he is simply head and shoulders above the competition as a passer this season. The longtime Lions starter has produced 94.8 EPA in the passing game so far. No other quarterback has topped 53.3 EPA. Murray, Prescott and Brady are within 0.1 EPA of each other for second, third and fourth; they're each about as close to Jimmy Garoppolo in EPA as they are to Stafford.
OK, maybe you don't like EPA. Stafford leads the league in Total QBR (69.8) and is averaging 9.2 AY/A, which is the best mark in football (Murray is the only quarterback within a half-yard). As ugly as Sunday's game was, Stafford still has only six interceptions and one fumble. That fumble was a dropped snap which he picked up and then threw to Kupp for a 25-yard gain.
Stafford is doing all of this, strangely, with a negative CPOE! The Rams are creating such huge passing opportunities that his expected completion percentage is 68.8%, and he's completing “only” 68.2% of his throws. In contrast, though, he is picking up huge chunks of yardage when he throws; he's averaging 8.6 yards per attempt, a figure topped by only Murray and Joe Burrow. When you hit lots of big plays and don't turn the ball over very often, you're going to be a very valuable quarterback. So far, even after a disappointing prime-time game, Stafford has been the league's most valuable player.
Nation, do you agree with Barnwell?