Matthew Stafford shouldered the weight of one of the most hopeless franchises in the NFL for the first 12 years of his pro career. Stafford was drafted by the Detroit Lions with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft when the organization was at its absolute lowest. The Lions had just finished an 0-16 season to “earn” the rights to the top pick, and suddenly it was Stafford’s job turn everything around.
The Lions won two games in Stafford’s rookie year. In his second year, he missed most of the season a shoulder injury that required surgery. It was starting in his third season that Stafford established himself as a very good NFL quarterback, passing for more than 5,000 yards and racking up completions to superstar wide out Calvin Johnson while leading the Lions to the playoffs.
Stafford could reliably be counted on to put up gaudy numbers, but the Lions still had widespread issues one player could never fix alone, starting with inconsistent coaching and a typically below average defense. Stafford made return trips to the playoffs in 2014 and 2016, but the Lions always went one-and-out.
Everything changed for Stafford when the Los Angeles Rams swung a massive trade over the offseason to make him the final piece of their championship push. One year to the day after the Rams sent two first round picks, a third round pick, and QB Jared Goff to Detroit in exchange for their new starting quarterback, Stafford helped punch the Rams ticket to the Super Bowl LVI by winning the NFC Championship Game over the San Francisco 49ers.
January 30, 2021:— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 31, 2022
Matthew Stafford is traded from the Lions to the Rams
January 30, 2022:
Matthew Stafford makes the Super Bowl with the Rams pic.twitter.com/jEQShjtkT9
After years of being asked to make up for all the Lions other deficiencies, Stafford finally found himself on a star-studded team where he didn’t have to always save the day. LA looked like Super Bowl contenders with Stafford from their season opening win against the Chicago Bears, and now Stafford has made on the hype.
Matthew Stafford’s record with the Lions: 74-90-1, 0-3 in the playoffs
All Stafford did this season was go 12-5 to win the NFC West title, then rip off three straight playoff wins to reach the Super Bowl.
The Rams whooped the Cardinals 34-11 to start their playoff run, with the LA defense playing a starring role.
LA’s next game came against the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by the greatest QB of all-time in Tom Brady. The Rams got out to a big lead before Brady led another comeback, but it was Stafford leading his team into field goal position on the final drive that won the game. Stafford’s 366 yards and two touchdowns in the win put the Rams on the doorstep of the Super Bowl.
Stafford was again excellent in the conference championship, passing for 337 yards and finding his favorite target Cooper Kupp for two scores. The Rams are going to the Super Bowl, and Stafford is the QB who pushed them over the top.
The Lions are still a disaster while Stafford is going to the Super Bowl
This was another nightmare season for the Lions. Detroit began the year 0-10-1 under first year head coach Dan Campbell. The Lions were competitive in many of their early losses, but it’s clear Detroit still has so much work to do to rebuild the team into a true contender.
After so many years of the organization and coaching staffs letting him down, Stafford finally got to see what life is like on a top team. While the Lions are again picking high in the NFL draft, Stafford is now playing for a Super Bowl ring. No NFL player experienced a more stark turnaround.
Some jobs are simply hopeless. Lions quarterback is at the top of the list. Stafford headed for the sunshine of LA and now he’s playing the Super Bowl. Sometimes a chance of scenery is the only move. It’s certainly been successful for Stafford.