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Comparing Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford


I’ve argued in the past that our perception of Matthew Stafford as being a talented QB is almost entirely tied up in Stafford’s reliance on Calvin Johnson. To put it another way, if you took Megatron away from Stafford, he wouldn’t look nearly as good. That’s the same as saying that the talent isn’t actually Stafford’s, it’s Johnson’s. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that Stafford has unique arm talent, but I also think it takes more than that to be a good QB.

To illustrate the point I’m getting at, I did a quick comparison between Stafford and my new bandwagon boy Sam Bradford by looking at their career Adjusted Yards/Attempt. If you want a QB stat highly correlated with winning, AYA is the simple metric for you.

But the key part of the quick math I did below is that I also compared the two QBs by looking at what happens to Stafford if you filter out the times he threw at Megatron. Spoiler: it doesn’t help him. However, I think it’s an entirely fair exercise to go through as Bradford hasn’t had a receiver with even 1/2 of the talent that Megatron has.

Career Adjusted Yards/Attempt

Including Calvin Johnson Excluding Calvin Johnson
Matthew Stafford 7.32 5.70
Sam Bradford 5.95 5.95

Here’s the damning thing for Stafford: even when he wasn’t throwing at Megatron, he still had Megatron sucking up coverage and theoretically leaving the other pass catchers with more favorable coverage. Stafford’s AYA to non-Megatron receivers looks really bad in that light.

I’ll have more posts on Sam Bradford as we go along, but I’m trying to get you out of the mode where you think about him as inherently less talented than the other QB options. Remember that Bradford was the #1 pick in his draft, just like Stafford was in his. Bradford had a college resume that was head and shoulders above Stafford. Now we know that if you remove the effect of one receiver, Bradford has also been better on a per attempt basis when compared with Stafford.

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