The look on his face is the only thing that separates Matthew Stafford from the top tier quarterbacks in the NFL, according to reports. Really?
The Detroit Lions star is ranked as a Tier two quarterback according to ESPN.com's anonymous panel of experts at the second annual "Quarterback Tier" rankings.
The panel of 35 experts consisted of eight personnel directors, six general managers, four head coaches, five offensive coordinators, five defensive coordinators, three salary-cap managers, two ex-GMs, two ex-head coaches and one offensive assistant coach
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Tier two quarterbacks are deemed less consistent and need more help, but good enough to figure prominently into a championship equation. Stafford was joined by Eli Manning at this level.
To break the Tier 1 barrier, the 2014 Pro Bowler would have to carry the Lions every week and contend for championships without as much help. Only Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees made this level.
According to the Detroit Free Press, one offense coach said: "No doubt, he is a (tier) 2 and I love him, but something is missing. Stafford could be like Aaron Rodgers if he had the burning passion and if he had Mike McCarthy from Day 1, because he is talented like that and quick with the ball.
"But you look at the look on Stafford's face before the game and then look at Rodgers' face or Big Ben's face or Luck's or especially Drew Brees' face or Philip Rivers' face. Holy (bleep), you look at Matthew 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'. It is always the want-to and passion and desire that separates guys. Stafford should be there with Big Ben. Rivers is OK physically, but does it all by heart and leadership."
Seriously? Are we now judging quarterbacks by how much of a beady stare they have at the start of a game?
I would have thought there would have been a more stronger reason for the 27-year-old not to be in the top tier like he's only lead the Lions to the playoffs twice since joining the league in 2009. Something along those lines perhaps?
Ignoring the whole face look thing, Stafford still needs to make the step up for the Lions to have them constantly in the playoff picture.
He needs to improve his accuracy, and he started doing this last year. Stafford completed 363 of his 602 passes last year giving him a pass completion percentage of 60.3, an improvement on the two years prior. If he continues this improvement, his interception counts will decrease too.
This in turn should provide more opportunities to win games and increase the Lions chances of obtaining back-to-back playoff runs for the first time since 1994 and 1995 seasons.
Considering the 27-year-old cap number will take a jump from $17.7 million to $22.5 million in 2016, it is important that he steps up his game as well to prove his value. Otherwise, the Lions may start to look elsewhere for a more reliable playmaker.