Matthew Stafford has always been good enough to win a Super Bowl. Multiple Super Bowls, in fact. People couldn't grasp that because he was in football hell with the Detroit Lions, where his best efforts only resulted in frustration and a goose egg in the playoff wins department. It's taken three weeks for the new Los Angeles Rams quarterback to turn skeptics into believers, moving his side above all others to the very real but not legally binding status as potential Super Bowl favorite.
Stafford threw for 343 yards and four touchdowns yesterday against the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On the year he's completed over 70 percent of his throws for 942 yards and nine scores while only turning the ball over once. It's almost as if he's found a better fit with Sean McVay and McVay is even more McVay-ish free of the Jared Goff shackles.
There's an entire marathon to go before Stafford makes me look like a genius and wins his first Super Bowl. Certainly not counting any chickens before they hatch. But honestly, it does feel like some sort of vindication. And there's comfort in knowing that predicting the former Lion will reach the pinnacle of the sport isn't the spiciest take out there.
That honor may belong to Golden Tate. Appearing on Good Morning Football, the wideout, who played with Stafford in Detroit for five years, suggested his former teammate is Aaron Rodgers' equal, if not more.
Finally. Finally someone said it. Because it's something that Detroit fans have felt for a long time. And it's not so much about Rodgers or Stafford but the disparate worlds the Packers and Lions have existed in for decades. What Tate is driving at is the insane dysfunction in one place and how the other place has only had recent friction.
For my money, I think he's half-right. Rodgers in Detroit wouldn't have been a long marriage. His personality would have spurred action years ago. He would not have dutifully played his heart out silently. He probably could have snagged a few Wild Card victories through the years by force of will but the ingredients for a long run were never there, even with arguably the most talented quarterback to play the game at the helm. Meanwhile, Stafford would have made deep playoff runs and become beloved in Green Bay. He'd probably have equaled Rodgers' single Super Bowl yet never been as big a star.
Tate is simply stating an obvious: that the NFL is both nature and nurture. Players perform better with more talent and less rot around them. It's really not that huge of a take — and not out of left field either. People in Michigan have been thinking this and saying it for a long time. Good to have a player put his name on it.