Pump the brakes in La-La Land.
Before you punch the Los Angeles Rams’ ticket to the Super Bowl after the blockbuster trade that landed them Matt Stafford from the Detroit Lions in exchange for Jared Goff, take a close look at Stafford’s numbers.
They are hollow, a mirage.
People in Detroit know because they watched Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, fail over and over against good teams — teams that finished over .500.
For sure, he is king of beating the mediocre.
Nobody — and we mean nobody — is better at padding his stats than Stafford. You know, putting up yards and late touchdowns in games basically out of reach. The resulting final scores make the games look closer, competitive. From afar, you marvel at Stafford’s stat lines and chubby career numbers.
Stafford was so famous for flourishing in garbage time against prevent defenses that Lions fans on the radio gave him all kinds of nicknames for doing so.
I call him Stat Padford.
If you’re being honest about his career, it fits.
People in Motown are in tears — tears of joy, that is — that the Lions finally dumped him.
In fact, if COVID-19 wasn’t still gripping folks, there probably would have been a parade down Woodward on Sunday.
And the people on the Left Coast, and around NFL America, just haven’t watched close enough to know what the Rams are in for.
Many former players are going out of their way to blur the facts. Just know that Stafford went 10 straight seasons, from 2009 to 2018, with a quarterback rating of 66 or less. And in 12 years, he posted a QBR over 100 just once.
It’s not that Stafford, who turns 33 in a week, is a total bum or can’t play a lick. It’s just that there were so many hopes and dreams when he arrived in Detroit. Fans weren’t just hoping to make the playoffs. As one of just four NFL teams not to make the Super Bowl, they hoped Stafford and his arm would finally be enough to get them over the hump.
None of those dreams came true. Worse, those hopes were usually dashed quickly when the Lions did make the playoffs, just three times in Stafford’s 12 seasons.
And because of Stafford’s big arm, the easiest thing would be to blame the Lions’ ownership and front office for all the failures.
We get it. When you’re a franchise that has won one playoff game since 1957, the players usually escape the blame.
But let’s be honest. Stafford did have a few chances over the years to flip the script, erase the tears and misery for Lions fans, but he failed when it counted.
He didn’t fail because he didn’t win a Super Bowl.
With Stafford at the helm, the Lions never won their division. They went 0-3 in the playoffs as a wild card.
Most believe a franchise quarterback can come through when the defense isn’t its best or the run-game is shutdown. The top QBs seem to be able to single handedly win a game on talent alone.
Stafford never showed that.
And stop the false narrative that the Lions never had any players to help him. It’s just not true. Stafford played with wide receiver stud Calvin Johnson and star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. There was Reggie Bush and Golden Tate there, too.
In 2014, the Stafford and the Lions had the chance to make a real run in the postseason. That year, the Lions (11-5) were second in the league in total defense, anchored by Suh and Nick Fairley.
In the 24-20 loss in Arlington, Texas, some fans think the Lions got jobbed by a pass-interference flag. It was first called in their favor and then picked up by the referees.
Despite it, Stafford did get the ball back with a few minutes and time outs left. Stafford went four and out. The game ended when Stafford was sacked and fumbled.
Did we mention that the Lions led the Cowboys, 20-7, in this game, only not to score in the final 18:19 after a third quarter field goal?
The reason the Lions were on the road for that game is because with the division on the line in Week 17, the Lions lost to the Packers in Green Bay. The Pack won the division and got the bye. Stafford could have delivered in that spot.
Despite all the celebrating in L.A., the Rams will find out for themselves. Stafford leading the Rams anywhere is far from a layup.