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Did Jim Caldwell Suggest Stafford Is "Well On His Way" To Hall Of Fame?

By: Will Burchfield

Is Matthew Stafford destined for the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Jim Caldwell thinks so - or maybe he doesn't.

The Lions head coach went out on a limb at his Monday afternoon press conference, suggesting Stafford is headed to Canton, Ohio, before quickly backtracking and clarifying that's not what he meant.

In referencing Peyton Manning and Stafford, Caldwell said, "You're also talking about two quarterbacks that are really, really good in the clutch. One who will be certainly donning a Hall of Fame jacket, and another one who's well on his way. I mean, those guys are very, very unusual cats."

When Caldwell was asked to confirm his comment, the coach played it safe.

I said, 'well on his way.' I didn't finish it off. I'm just talking about he's on his way to really having a prolific career. There's no question. We'll see what happens down the road, but just look at his numbers, look at what he's doing. He's, like I said, well on his way. And what the end of that is, that's up to him," Caldwell said.

Despite overtly suggesting that Stafford is "well on his way" to the Hall of Fame, and not somewhere else, Caldwell was adamant that his words not be taken out of context.

"Don't put words in my mouth - I didn't say that. I did not say that. But I'm not discounting it either. Be careful how you think. Your life is shaped by your thoughts, right? But he's getting better," said Caldwell.

For what it's worth, Stafford owns the NFL record for most passing yards by a quarterback in his first 100 games. He surpassed Dan Marino's mark earlier this season. And he's actually thrown for more yards per game (277.5) over his career than Manning did (270.5) over his - no small feat considering Manning is the NFL's all-time passing leader.

Where Stafford's Hall of Fame resume is most visibly lacking is in the wins department. He has a career record of 49-55 and has yet to win a game in the playoffs. Manning, by comparison, was 186-79 in the regular season and won two Super Bowls.

He also went to went to 14 Pro Bowls and won five MVP awards. Stafford has played in just one Pro Bowl and claimed only end-of-the-year award: 2011 Comeback Player of the Year. But at 28, he figures to have plenty of time to add to this trophy case.

Whether or not it one day calls for his induction into the Hall of Fame is a tricky question, one that Caldwell freely answered - until he didn't.

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