Friends Stafford, Ryan share position, mutual respect

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — You’d think they were lifelong friends, but Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and his Atlanta Falcons counterpart, Matt Ryan, only met a few years ago, at the Pro Bowl following the 2014 season.

From that point, the bromance took off like a rocket. The two won a rec league basketball championship in Atlanta, vacationed together in the Bahamas and even took their wives on a double date for Valentine’s Day. At this point, the NFL Network should consider a reality show following the two around.

“I obviously have a lot of respect for him and how he plays the game,” Stafford said. “I think he does the same for me. As you married people know, when your wives get along, that helps, too. Our wives get along, which is nice. But I don’t know, he’s just a good guy. It’s kind of nice to have somebody in the league that you can talk ball with in the offseason, all that kind of stuff.”

Stafford downplayed the off-field friendship having an impact on on-field performance, but Falcons coach Dan Quinn said it’s important.

“It’s really significant. There’s a guy who’s literally been in your shoes,” Quinn said. “And for Matt Ryan who’s done it a little longer than (Stafford), he could ask, ‘Has this situation ever come up? You know, it has.’

“I’m not saying Matt Ryan is Matt Stafford’s mentor, but I’m just saying there is a partnership at the same position, and it’s even true for guys like myself who are in a head coaching position. I have some people that I lean on, and can ask questions to that might not be on our own team. So, I totally recognize that and I think it’s cool that they have a good friendship going, and everybody around here knows exactly who Matt Stafford is based on his time here as a (Georgia) Bulldog.”

This offseason, Stafford worked with an outside quarterback coach for the first time, heading to 3DQB in California. It wasn’t a coincidence that Stafford’s decision came one year after Ryan starting working with the group, crediting them for helping elevate his game during his MVP season last year.

Whether Stafford’s game improves as drastically remains to be seen. All that matters this week, when Stafford’s Lions and Ryan’s Falcons meet is Ford Field, is getting will be getting a win.