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Is Matthew Stafford a Hall of Famer?

His numbers say yes, but is that enough?

NFL: NOV 19 Seahawks at Rams
Is Matthew Stafford an NFL Hall of Fame candidate?
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s apparent that the Los Angeles Rams offense is sputtering and with that comes deserved scrutiny. Since the NFL is a quarterback-driven league, the L.A. much of the white-hot light is focused on Matthew Stafford. Is he declining? Are two of his most coveted assets, a strong arm and his gunslinger swagger really in question?

As usual, the answers are not simple, there are a lot of things wrong with the Rams offense and while Staff has to shoulder his share of the blame, I don’t think he’s washed up or going anywhere else than SoFi Stadium. For a couple of reasons.

One, while his physical skills are going through the natural aging process, they are not diminishing at a hell-in-a-bucket rate, nor are his gun-slinging approach and attitude. He still has the arm strength to make all the throws and while he’s not a true threat with his feet, he’s certainly not a statue.

Two, the Rams and Staff are tied contractually for 2024 and 2025. It will be 2026 before the cap numbers fall into some semblance of favor to L.A. It’s very hard to make a case for eating all that dead money. And yes, it does go down substantially in ’25, but it is still a significant chunk. And those post-June 1 trade moves, don’t have the big returns you would like from moving a high-cost player.

But just forget about all that. Put the here and now aside for the Thanksgiving Holiday. This article is about Matthew Stafford’s legacy as his career starts to wind down and how he fits, statistically speaking, into the debate over induction into the NFL Hall of Fame.

Staff has now played 200 NFL games in a 15 year career. And as such, has accumulated an opulence of statistics. Stats are not everything of course, but at the very least, they are an accurate recording of on field performance, however dry they may be to follow. Below are nine statistical categories from Pro Football Reference and an added Super Bowl appearance listing. The projection of Staff’s future numbers are based on his career averages, with a leaning to the lesser sides.

Is Matthew Stafford a candidate for the NFL Hall of Fame?

Games played/started

Tom Brady - 335 / 333

Brett Favre - 302 / 298

Drew Brees - 287 / 286

Active

t120. Aaron Rodgers - 231 / 224

t250. (approx.) Mathew Stafford - 200 / 200

There is no reason not to think Staff has three good seasons left. 55 more games would put him past Earl Morrall into the Top 5 of games played for quarterbacks and since they would likely all be in a starting role, he would also be Top 5 in career QB starts. Of course, how much injuries may impact that remains to be seen. Stafford has been long-praised for his physical toughness and if he’s not on the field, he’s injured, not hurt.

Passes attempted

Tom Brady - 12,050

Drew Brees - 10,551

Brett Favre - 10,169

Active

10. Aaron Rodgers - 7661

11. Matthew Stafford - 7437

Wherever Stafford plays, that team is going to throw the football. He’s averaged 37.1 passes per game over his career and that number is slightly down this year. If he averages 35 throws over his final 55 games, those 9362 attempts would would pass Dan Marino, Eli Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger and move him up into the #5 spot behind the Top 3 listed and Payton Manning. His only active competition would be Aaron Rodgers, and they both would sit there quite awhile until the next crop of great QB’s get enough seasons to compete statistically.

Passes completed

Tom Brady - 7753

Drew Brees - 7142

Brett Favre - 6300

Active

8. Aaron Rodgers - 5001

11. Matthew Stafford - 4691

Again, ARod is Stafford’s only real competitor moving up the all-time list, all the other current NFL QB’s are just too far back. A fair guesstimate of Staff’s totals would land him at 5856 and pass Matt Ryan for #5. That’s 23 completions per over 55 games, just about his recent career average.

Completion percentage

Drew Brees - 67.7

Chad Pennington - 66.0

Matt Ryan - 65.6

Active

1. Joe Burrow - 68.0

33. Mathew Stafford - 63.1

This is not a category strength for Stafford, nor will it become one at this stage of his career. He’s always been prone to throwing sidearm and the ball sailing on him. Also, with his naturally strong arm, he can be prone to whipping the ball just with his arm and not stepping through. I don’t really know if three to five missed completions per 100 passes over 200 games is justification to mark any QB down.

Passing yards

Tom Brady - 89,214

Drew Brees - 80,358

Payton Manning - 71,940

Active

9. Aaron Rodgers - 59,055

11. Matthew Stafford - 54,342

Probably the toughest category to move up in. At 273 yards per, he would need all 55 games to get to 69,202 and grab a Top 5 slot. With that little room for error, he won’t make any real strides up the list until mid-2025 when Dan Marino, Matt Ryan, and Phillip Rivers come into his sights.

Yards per attempt

Otto Graham - 9.0

Sid Luckman - 8.4

Norm Van Brocklin - 8.2

Active

3. Jimmy Garoppolo - 8.2

t50. Mathew Stafford - 7.3

Who says those old guys played in three yards and a cloud of dust. Graham retired in 1955, Luckman in 1950, and Van Brocklin in 1960. There are a bunch of past-era QB’s high in this category, the game was played different back then, fewer and longer passes. Staff, like a lot his era QB’s, will likely never get into the Top 20 of this group even though many of the younger players will revert towards his number as their attempts go up. I mean, would you rather have Stafford as your QB or a guy like Garoppolo (8.2) or Jamies Winston (7.7)?

Passing touchdowns

Tom Brady - 649

Drew Bees - 571

Payton Manning - 531

Active

5. Aaron Rodgers - 475

11. Matthew Stafford - 342

Over his 15 years, Stafford has been consistently hitting 1.7 touchdowns per game, even in L.A, where it seems the Rams are always settling for red zone field goals. So projecting 95 more scoring throws may be a bit high, but is still fair. A total of 435 TD’s would make him #6 all-time. Russell Wilson is on his tail (15 behind) and looks to rejuvenated under Sean Payton in Denver.

Passes intercepted

Brett Favre - 336

George Blanda - 277

John Hadl - 268

Active

45. Mathew Stafford - 177

68. Andy Dalton - 144

The category of shame and Stafford is well down the list. Unless he really comes apart, Even if he throws another .8 per game, that added 44 would still be behind legends like John Elway, Peyton Manning, and Fran Tarkenton amongst many others.

Game winning drives/fourth quarter comebacks

Tom Brady - 58/46

Payton Manning - 54/43

Drew Brees - 53/36 / Ben Roethlisberger - 53/41

Active

7. Matthew Stafford - 44/35

10. Russell Wilson - 39/31

With the Rams struggling and every game tight, there’s a possibility for a bunch more of these efforts. I don’t necessarily think the number in this category is as important as the company. The Top 10 are all in the Hall of Fame or likely to be voted in when eligible.

Super Bowl appearances

Tom Brady - 10

John Elway - 5

Terry Bradshaw/Joe Montana - 4

Active

Patrick Mahomes - 3

Russell Wilson - 2

Matthew Stafford - 1 tied with 43 others

Only a special few get multiple chances the Lombardi Trophy. The list of winners who have won the big prize is even smaller. 17 players have multiple wins and 21 others have single wins. Stafford cashed in on his only trip.

After 200 games, what is Matthew Stafford’s legacy? Is he in line for the Hall of Fame?

Granted, the article is assuming a lot when it comes to anticipating future stats and projecting Stafford into the Top 5 of most statistical categories. The extrapolations are simply based on his career averages and I don’t think three more seasons (55 games is the number I landed on) are particularly a stretch. But even standing on Stafford’s current stats, he matches up as well and/or surpasses many Hall of Fame members.

It doesn’t help that he has only one Super Bowl win, but that is really still a small and exclusive club. Is Stafford a better fit into the group of Cinderella’s, Nick Foles, Brad Johnson, Jeff Hostetler and other one-time winners? Or does he deserve recognition with the up-front Hall of Fame inductees clique, Brett Favre, Johnny Unitas, Kenny Stabler?

I think that history will look upon Staff as a top NFL quarterback in a career that bridged some of the NFL’s most prolific passers to another group of youngsters (Mahomes, Jackson, Goff, etc.) that will become the next Hall of Fame “Who’s in?” debate. John Matthew Stafford deserves to go in on first ballot.