NOTE: The views expressed in this EDITORIAL do not necessarily reflect the views of Detroit Sports Nation or a majority of its writers and should not be misconstrued as such. The views contained within are the views of the author and the author alone.
Alright Detroit Lion lovers, let’s be real for a second. The most polarizing figure in the Detroit sports landscape is undoubtedly Matthew Stafford. Some think he is all that is wrong with the Lions while his advocates presume him to be the next Joe Montana. Although only a small percentage fall into one of the aforementioned categories, both parties are usually the catalyst for a majority of the vocal contention in the fandom blogosphere. There is never an in-between.
When you think about it, it is actually a microcosm of what is wrong with politics today. The obstinate extremists are so set in their ways that they can’t use common sense to arrive at a practical compromise. They only deal in absolutes and refuse to establish any common ground. All the while, the rational and affable majority remains quiet, letting the radical opponents duke it out. Sound familiar?
Hatred and disparaging remarks towards fellow fans with dissenting opinions create a chasm– which only widens when civility and respect are thrown aside. Can’t all of us Lions fans be friends and get along? We are on the same team here!
For the Stafford “haters,” these next few lines are directed at you (don’t worry, the slappies will have their moment of criticism as well). I ask you one simple question– what better alternative do we have? If not Stafford then who? Don’t even act like rookie QB Jake Rudock is our knight in shining armor, you already tried that once with Kellen Moore. Not every quarterback drafted after the fifth round is Tom Brady. Actually, almost NO late round QB even sniffs long-term starter status. Brady was an enormous anomaly. A general manager should be tried for negligence if a sleeper QB is his plan of action to lead a franchise.
We recently just witnessed how much the Philadelphia Eagles and the St. Louis Rams had to give up to grab an unproven signal-caller in this year’s draft–imagine how much an organization would have to surrender to acquire an established product. The spread attack college game is not producing NFL quarterbacks at the rate it used to. Is Stafford really that awful that we should give up the farm for a rookie QB whose odds of being better than our incumbent are slim to none? Or maybe we should pursue a veteran of Sam Bradford‘s or Nick Foles‘ ability, a QB who should serve as Stafford’s backup, but to the haters, is an apparent “upgrade.” I wouldn’t consider that an ideal situation.
No healthy, above average QB hits the open market these days, especially a 28-year old with a cannon for an arm and the clutch gene. Brock Osweiler, a career backup who lost his temporary game-manager role to a noodle-armed Peyton Manning, proceeded to get paid top-dollar in free agency this offseason.
In short, unless you have an heir apparent, you don’t ship off a dependable QB.
Now for all of you who are crowning Stafford as the next best thing. He is not. It is that simple. At this point in time, all of those gaudy records and impressive accumulated stats can be credited to being a product of the system or the new pass-happy NFL rules. Stafford is no Brady or Aaron Rodgers in which he can consistently win games by himself. Those are once in a generation type players. Fortunately, there have been multiple instances of average quarterbacks winning the Super Bowl, it just requires the proper framework around him.
It is not unreasonable to say Stafford has had little to work with either. Contrary to popular belief, the run game is a quarterback’s best friend, not his receivers. The last six Super Bowl winners were not victorious due to their wideouts. In fact, the receivers usually just play an ancillary role while the defense and rushing attack do the heavy lifting. The quarterbacks just have to make a play when called upon–much easier when the entire game isn’t resting completely on their shoulders.
Any mediocre QB can win games and look like an all-star with a solid ground game running the show (i.e. Teddy Bridgewater, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, Mark Sanchez, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, and countless other over-hyped washouts who were once falsely perceived as superior to Stafford). Our gunslinger has never been afforded an adequate run game that has even finished in the top half of the league. You could blame the O-line for that.
Seriously, let cut all the B.S. and call it like it is. Matthew Stafford is an elite talent (I repeat: talent) with all the tools. He can do things that other QBs can’t physically fathom. That doesn’t mean I am claiming him to be a Hall-of-Famer, but he is also nowhere near a bust. It’s perfectly fine to label him as a good QB. There is not going to be a player of his skill-set that just falls into the Lions lap. If one serendipitously drops on our doorstep, then take the chance on him, it never hurts to have multiple proficient QBs.
Finding a franchise QB is no easy task, just ask the Lions general managers of last 50 years. I myself am sick of seeing and hearing the divisive debate. Matthew Stafford is a reasonably priced, passionate, and capable QB who frankly needs talent around him to succeed– just like 98% of the quarterbacks out there. You are just being greedy if you prefer someone better.