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Rich Gannon: Matthew Stafford showed “great toughness” in 2011

Lions Packers Football AP

2011 NFL Comeback Player of the Year candidate Matthew Stafford was once called a “china doll” by his teammate. Former Lions linebacker Zack Follett criticized Stafford in the summer of 2011 for going down every time he got hit.

Truthfully, Stafford’s early-career injuries were just bad luck. And he confirmed his toughness and durability by playing the 2011 season through a fractured finger and high ankle sprain.

I just thought he showed great toughness,” CBS commentator Rich Gannon told the Detroit Free Press. “I know how important it was to him to dispel all those myths about him. … I really think that the guy is becoming a special player.”

Stafford turned a major corner in 2011, playing the first full 16-game season of his career and leading his team to the playoffs. He ranked third in the league in passing yards (5,038), third in touchdown passes (41), and second in completions of 40-plus yards (18), all while absorbing the sixth most sacks in the league (36).

The Comeback Player of the Year award will be announced on Saturday. PFT gave Stafford an honorable mention for the honors in our postseason awards picks.

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25 Responses to “Rich Gannon: Matthew Stafford showed “great toughness” in 2011”
  1. backindasaddle says: Feb 4, 2012 11:03 AM

    Stafford has demonstrated the skills and attributes of a top notch NFL QB. Now he needs to learn the skill of staying healthy and avoiding injury. That is actually a learned skill that QBs acquire with experience and once he develops that (he may already have), there is no ceiling for the kid because he has everything else.

  2. captainwisdom8888 says: Feb 4, 2012 11:07 AM

    Stafford and Calvin will turn each other into hall of famers if they keep this up…

  3. polegojim says: Feb 4, 2012 11:08 AM

    Very true – all those who like to joke and claim he’s frail were shut up and shut down.

    Great Job Matt!

    With a true running game in 2012 (and avoiding the plethora of major RB injuries) he’ll look even better.

    Now… Gunther needs to get that under-performing D playing as it should.

  4. megatronownsyou says: Feb 4, 2012 11:09 AM

    Be ready for more of said toughness and a Lions trip to the super bowl next year.
    And for all you haters out there who, in the beginning of the season, were SO SURE that he would get injured at some point and not play a full season it looks like you were wrong again.

  5. faulkn22 says: Feb 4, 2012 11:10 AM

    As a lions fan, glad to have him. He’s the real deal; NFC is a two team race for the next decade, imo (GB and DET).

  6. kiopta1 says: Feb 4, 2012 11:16 AM

    Det just needs a secondary and a running game then we should be golden.

  7. bleed4philly says: Feb 4, 2012 11:18 AM

    Can’t believe he didnt make the pro bowl, how can 5,000 yards passing go unnoticed?

  8. breezysmeezy says: Feb 4, 2012 11:22 AM

    I can’t believe he isn’t getting any MVP consideration

  9. latenightroach says: Feb 4, 2012 11:22 AM

    Stafford should have been in the Pro Bowl instead of Newton.

  10. lilrob10201 says: Feb 4, 2012 11:29 AM

    We all learned what Stafford can do when healthy.And people that say Calvin Johnson made him look good are mad because , Jon Kitna sucked for the Lions.

  11. lionfreq says: Feb 4, 2012 12:15 PM

    For a 23 year old kid, he shows so much maturity and poise. If you listen to him interview, he just sounds like an elite QB. He would have surpassed Brees in yards for the record if he didn’t have a fractured finger on his THROWING hand.

  12. hafftime says: Feb 4, 2012 12:19 PM

    it’s amazing he was able to play with the high ankle sprain dispite not wearing a goofy, oversized yellow shoe so everyone would know what a warrior he was !

  13. rmc1995 says: Feb 4, 2012 12:24 PM

    Sadly it was reported earlier that Gannon will be voting for Alex Smith for come back player of the year.

  14. pacificnw7722 says: Feb 4, 2012 12:36 PM

    “All while absorbing the sixth most sacks in the league (36).”

    O-Line needs to step up and protect this kid…..but he did a hell of job throwing the rock.

  15. JSpicoli says: Feb 4, 2012 12:39 PM

    Once again Gannon is right. I like his commentary.

  16. schmitty2 says: Feb 4, 2012 1:34 PM

    Pretty scary he threw for over 5000 yards with no running game. Imagine what he can do if he did have one

  17. jamezz23 says: Feb 4, 2012 2:35 PM

    I wouldn’t trade him for anyone in the league right now. At 23 he’s got so much more upside its scary. To say he can get better and he just threw for over 40 tds and 5000 is just scary. Can’t say that for anyone else…

  18. ajknox88 says: Feb 4, 2012 3:20 PM

    Stafford vs. Newton is the future of the NFL

  19. asublimeday says: Feb 4, 2012 3:46 PM

    Yeah, he really did a great job in that second match up against the Bears hahaha

  20. sariff420 says: Feb 4, 2012 4:07 PM

    Great play by Stafford this year and give him credit for taking advantage of playing every game this year…but one year does not confirm toughness and durability.

  21. EJ says: Feb 4, 2012 4:08 PM

    So Detroit finally put “Glass Man” through the KILN? Its about time Stafford toughened up a little bit. I bet the Strength and Conditioning Coaches ran bets behind the scenes on whether or not he’d finish the game and which part of his anatomy failed that week.

  22. so1ar says: Feb 4, 2012 4:14 PM

    i was mad as hell when detroit picked him. then the Cleveland game happened and he showed me who he was. since then im a huge Stafford supporter. he is going to be elite soon.

  23. bischof21 says: Feb 4, 2012 6:20 PM

    What exactly is Alex Smith coming back from? He was terrible and he is just a game manager now. So tell me what is he coming back from to win? Mediocrity?

  24. bearsstillsuck says: Feb 4, 2012 6:21 PM

    Cutler cried when he read this.

  25. achamarro1 says: Feb 7, 2012 9:02 PM

    Let me start this off with I AM A HUGE MATT STAFFORD FAN..but lionfreq in only one of those 3 games he didnt throw for 300+ yards but he did average more than 300 yds a game in that 3 game stretch look it up. He is about to turn 24 and mark my words people will be claiming the second coming of dan marino..Matt stafford has the charisma/swagger the confidence and the arm to be the next big QB…hell he is one of 4 peeps to throw 5k+v and i am saying he will be big……Eli is great but def didnt deserve a probowl nod…no prob with cam being 1st alternative but matt shouldve been the 3rd slotted QB……………..ALL HAIL MEGATRON

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