Year after year the NFL continually develops into more of a passing game than the age-old running game that became a staple when the league was born. Quarterbacks have long since mastered the three step drop and have perpetually put the ball in their receivers hands on go, fade, play action and slant routes. It used to be that passing for 3,000 yards in a season was something that was unheard of, and then soon enough, 4,000 yards became the goal. It wasn’t until last year that 5,000 passing yards in a season became the new achievable landmark for quarterbacks to surpass, with the exception of Dan Marino’s record, which was then broken last year by Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Not only did one quarterback achieve this monumental feat, but three quarterbacks easily surpassed the number in the 2011 season. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Matthew Stafford all achieved the seemingly impossible and passed for more than 5,000 yards in sixteen games. Although most people could easily see Brady and Brees knocking out that number with ease, it was the unlikely Lions quarterback who finally showed what he is capable of when the injury bug doesn’t bite hard.
With the 2012 season at the forefront, Matthew Stafford now looks to remain healthy again and try to repeat his stellar performance from last season. But by the looks of it, the NFC North is quickly turning into one of the most dangerous divisions in the NFL. Three teams in the division (Packers, Bears, Lions) have been building their franchises over the course of the off-season and are likely contenders for snagging the division title. It was in fact that last year, Stafford led the Lions to their first playoff appearance in twelve seasons, an 11-5 record, and a spark in the city of Detroit that may have helped convince network executives to stop blacking out games in the city.
Last year Stafford finally became a recognizably known household name, proving he’s capable of being a franchise quarterback. Stafford put up huge numbers in 2011, playing in all 16 games for the first time in his three year career in the NFL, passing for 5,038 yards on 663 attempts while throwing for a whopping 41 touchdowns and only tossing 16 interceptions. An impressive set of statistics for this player who has seemingly saved a spiraling franchise looking to be a threat in the upcoming season. But the real question concerning the Lions gunslinger is does Stafford has what it takes to repeat his incredible 5,000 passing yard season again? Some would argue that it seems impossible because as history shows us in the NFL, repeats are hard to come by, an example being Tom Brady’s outrageous 50 passing touchdowns in a season. Then again, there are those who believe that if Stafford can avoid injury, there shouldn’t be a problem for him attaining this goal all over again.
If I was a betting man, I’d say that Stafford definitely has what it takes to deliver another 5,000 yards, but I’m going out on a limb and saying he doesn’t achieve the mark this year, and maybe misses it by about 200 yards or so. I like Stafford and think he’s a great quarterback, but with still a lot to learn in his passing game. Also, avoiding injury would be a good sign considering Stafford has already become infamous in that respect. Nonetheless, I think we can all agree we’ll be looking forward to not just how Stafford performs next year, but the entire plethora of NFL quarterbacks looking to eclipse the 5,000 yards passing mark.
Chris Strong is a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan living in the heart of Chicago and though he gets many strange looks wearing his green and gold, he represents his team proudly in the windy city. By day, Chris is a supervisor at a Chicago Cubs merchandise store located across the way from Wrigley Field, not to mention an avid film and media writer. By night, Chris continues to pursue a sports writing career as he loves all things football, especially the NFL.