Georgia football was well represented in Tuesday’s Pro Bowl announcements, landing three players on the team.
However, there was one notable player left out, at least if you ask ESPN personality Jon Gruden — Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. On ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike Wednesday morning, Gruden advocated for the former Georgia signal caller’s Pro-Bowl-level resume.
"Matthew Stafford has had a pro bowl season. He's carried the Detroit Lions this year."
– Jon Gruden pic.twitter.com/pB5Q6C1aoJ
— Golic and Wingo (@GolicAndWingo) December 21, 2016
Gruden may have a point. Stafford has led his Lions to a 9-5 record, putting them atop the NFC North. Of those nine wins, eight have featured fourth quarter or overtime comebacks, an NFL single-season record.
Stafford started the season at an MVP-caliber pace. Through his first six games, he had four with a passer rating of 110 or higher. Combined, he threw for 1,648 yards — nearly 300 per game — while throwing for 14 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions with a 106 passer rating.
He’s cooled off since then, seeing his rating drop to 88.4 over his last eight games with just over 250 passing yards per game and a 2:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but it’s hard to deny his 4th-quarter merits.
In reality, Stafford may have just fallen victim to a plethora of qualified NFC quarterbacks this season.
Matt Ryan was a lock, leading his Falcons to a NFC South-leading 9-5 record with an NFL-leading 114.0 passer rating. Behind him, it’s hard to argue for Stafford over Aaron Rodgers, who has thrown for more yards, more touchdowns and fewer interceptions and has a higher passer rating.
If there’s a beef to be had for Stafford, it’s his candidacy over fellow SEC-alum Dak Prescott. But if winning games benefits Stafford’s resume, it’s hard to argue with Prescott’s Cowboys and their 12-2 record. Not to mention, Prescott, while throwing for fewer yards than Stafford, has a better touchdown-to-interception ratio and a higher passer rating.