Matthew Stafford: No. 5 all time

While the Lions were unraveling again last season, Matthew Stafford broke into the Top 5 in a (deservedly) obscure category. He now has the fifth-highest passer rating in NFL history among quarterbacks with losing records as starters (minimum: 2,000 attempts).

In so doing, Stafford bumped a grateful Neil Lomax, who posted a 82.7 rating while going 47-52-2 in the regular season with the Cardinals from 1981 through ’88.

Note that all five quarterbacks listed below played (or are still playing) in the 2000s. No surprise there. With the rules increasingly tilted toward the offense, ratings keep going up and up. As a result, the league has never had losing QBs who’ve thrown the ball more proficiently. (How’s that for a distinction?)

TOP 5 CAREER RATINGS FOR QBS WITH LOSING RECORDS AS STARTERS

Rating Quarterback Teams Years Record Playoffs Pro Bowls
87.8 Daunte Culpepper Vikings, 3 others 1999-2009 41-59, .410 2-2, .500 3
85.9 Carson Palmer Bengals, 2 others 2004-2013 64-73, .467 0-2, .000 2
86.0 Trent Green Chiefs, 3 others 1997-2008 56-57, .496 0-2, .000 2
84.4 Marc Bulger Rams 2002-2009 41-54, .432 1-2, .333 2
83.1 Matthew Stafford Lions 2009-2013 24-37, .393 0-1, .000 0

(Minimum: 2,000 attempts.)

Interesting, no? The first four played in multiple Pro Bowls, but only two won a playoff game. (Combined postseason record, Stafford included: 3-9.)

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Heck, Warren Moon got voted into the Hall of Fame despite being sub-.500 as a starter (105-108, playoffs included). The same goes for Sonny Jurgensen (69-73-7). And the Hall is better for it. It shouldn’t just be a collection of Guys Who Were Fortunate Enough To Play For Winning Teams. (I’ll always remember Moon, first and foremost, as the quarterback whose defense couldn’t hold a 35-3 second-half lead.)

Let’s hope Stafford chalks up a few more W’s down the road and doesn’t turn into another Jeff George (46-78, .371, 1-2, 80.4). That would be a shame for everybody but Jeff, who’s probably tired of being singled out like this and would love some company.

Sources: pro-football-reference.com, NFL.com