Bruce Arians: Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford 'one of my all-time favorite guys'
Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers go head to head for NFL MVP. Josh Allen just led the Buffalo Bills to their first championship title in 25 years. And he trains probably the greatest quarterback of all time.
But Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians spent Tuesday gushing about another signal caller he said was in the upper tier of the NFL quarterbacks, Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford.
"He's one of my all-time favorite boys," said Arians. "As I said the other day, he's one of the few quarterbacks I like to go out and watch warm up just to watch him throw because he's so special and I've always felt like one of the top 4 or 5 guys in this league for a long time. And he's like I say he's tough as nails and his boys know it. They know he'll suck it up for them. "
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Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford plays the ball in the second quarter against the Houston Texans at Ford Field on Thursday, November 26, 2020.
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Arians has a rich history of coaching some of the best quarterbacks of this generation.
He spent three years with Quarter of Famer Peyton Manning as a quarterbacks coach. He was the offensive coordinator for Ben Roethlisberger's second Super Bowl. He trained Andrew Luck as a rookie. And this season he's worked side by side with six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady.
But Arians said he always had a special affinity for Stafford's physical abilities.
"He can do any throw from any angle and he's just so, so talented," said Arians. "There are only so many people who are talented that they say, 'Hey, I'm going to sneak out and watch him warm up.' So I've been a fan of his for a long time. "
Stafford was classified as restricted in the Lions' esteemed training report on Tuesday as he continues to battle rib and thumb injuries that had little impact on his game.
Stafford completed 22 of 32 passes for 252 yards in their loss to the Tennessee Titans last week before being pulled out of reach with the game in the fourth quarter.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford calls for his offense in the first half against the Panthers on Sunday, November 22, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
[Lions stop training Tuesday after the COVID-19 outbreak]
Interim Lions head coach Darrell Bevell said Tuesday that the Lions hadn't considered closing Stafford for the season even though the team was eliminated from playoffs last week.
"To be honest, I don't think he'll let that happen," said Bevell. "These guys are real competitors. I think you saw his testimony after the game. I mean, there's a sense of pride, there's a sense that you have to be there, that you want to be there for your teammates. "
The Lions (5-9) have lost four of their last five games and are guaranteed to finish with a record loss for the third time in a row.
Stafford's future in Detroit remains in the air as the organization undergoes another regime change, and Arians said Stafford has not received the recognition it deserves over the years because of the Lions' lack of success.
In 12 seasons with Stafford as quarterback, the Lions only had four winning records and made the playoffs three times.
"I think 'same old story'" said Arians. "It wins. You can be a great player, if your team doesn't win, you won't get what you deserve and he made a lot."
[How Lions Can Still Make the Top 5 in the 2021 NFL Draft]
The Lions did not train on Tuesday due to a COVID-19 outbreak, however they cited five players as non-participants in their valued training report: Jamie Collins (neck), Tyrell Crosby (ankle), Kenny Golladay (hip), Frank Ragnow (neck)) and Halapoulivaati Vaitai (concussion).
Detroit Lions Center Frank Ragnow before the game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field on Mile High, December 22, 2019.
Bevell said Ragnow, who broke a cartilage in his neck in a loss to the Green Bay Packers on December 13, will see a specialist again on Thursday to get active again.
"That will give us all the information we need to know," Bevell said. "How well he's healed and whether he's healed well enough to go out and perform."
Because Ragnow was told not to speak, Bevell said he had a fun chat with Ragnow when he FaceTimed the center for third year to let him know that he was doing the Pro Bowl on Tuesday.
"The second he answered I said, 'Don't say anything, I just need to talk to you," said Bevell. "It was fun. It was really a fun conversation and obviously one-sided because he couldn't say much, but his face lit up and it was really exciting. "
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.
This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford ', one of the top 4 or 5' QBs
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