Monday, September 07, 2009

Why I Agree With The Decision To Start Stafford

Winning the starting quarterback job was the easy part for Matthew Stafford. Now the tough part begins.
Can he take it?
Because he is going to have bad games. Real bad ones. Maybe as soon as the season opener at New Orleans. He is going to get booed. It is entirely possible he will get benched at some point this season. How will he react to adversity?
That’s the part we don’t know about Matthew Stafford. To this stage, we understand he has an incredibly strong arm and decent mobility and a certain gunslinger mentality. He is extraordinarily talented, but what about the intangibles?
I think it is the right decision by the Lions. He played well in three of the four preseason games. I also think he gives the Lions a better chance to win now because defenses must respect his arm. It’s unlikely they will put an extra defensive back in the box to shutdown the run - like they would with most rookie quarterbacks - and dare him to beat them deep. Not with Calvin Johnson on the outside.
It should help Kevin Smith gets some yards. The more likely scenario is defenses will drop defenders back, and try to disguise coverages. Stafford was intercepted a lot in college and during the preseason. Can he recognize those coverages? Will he understand the value of taking care of the ball?
At least this way, he will learn. I’m convinced - especially after talking to Peyton Manning following the Lions preseason game vs. Indianapolis recently - Stafford wasn’t going to learn much on the sidelines.
Daunte Culpepper doesn’t present the same deep threat. You would likely see eight in the box. It would hinder the Lions running game.
But like I’ve said and written before, it would not have been a travasty had Culpepper been named starter. He did perform better than I expected during the preseason.
Yet, that would have just been delaying the inevitable growing pains Stafford must endure. Better to get them out of the way sooner instead of later.



Anonymous toasterhands said...

This is the right decision. Better to start him on the road where actually there might be LESS pressure because when he makes mistakes the booing won't cascade down on him like it would at Ford Field.

2:16 PM 
Anonymous Michael C said...

Risky. One of the things that concerns me most that's easily forgotten is that Stafford averaged less than a half of playing time each preseason game, and STILL threw an INT each game. So on a per minute basis he was on pace to throw around 10 INTs in 4 complete games (or 40 in 16 ...), and that's not even considering that he was going against 2nd / 3rd team defenses some of the time. I'm not sure that qualifies him as being "ready".
But he definitely was able to attack downfield way more successfully than Culpepper.

Best of luck to Stafford, and every Lions fan in proxy. Lets hope we can get lucky and have Stafford hit the ground running like Matt Ryan did. Or rather more importantly not damage his confidence too bad this year and in the long run end up being our first star QB in 50+ years. I'm not sure this team and fanbase could survive another bust at QB.

7:17 PM 
Anonymous Deano said...

I think it is the wrong decision because I believe Culpepper gives the Lions a better chance to win now. As you said Pat, Stafford has a history of turnovers which usually lead to losses. The Lions organization does not respect winning, they are always planning for the future. Worry about winning first and developing players later.

10:15 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

My mind there was no surprise that Stafford was named the starter. #1 with 40 plus million dollars you have to see what you got. #2 football is all about continuity. By starting Stafford out the gate you have a chance to build that continuity to be successful not just for this year but for the next few years. #3 you can't complain to having Culpepper as your backup.

My biggest concern for the lions is Defense? Can we stop anybody? We have no defensive line and or pass rush. I have a gut feeling New Orleans may light up the lions. Schwartz is a so called Defensive Guru and Cunningham is suppose to be a strong defensive mind it will be interesting to see how this unit responds. Who is going to be able to tackle for this team? I think Delmas is going to be huge. I think Sims needs to have his best year as a pro. I think Sammie Lee Hill needs to progress faster then normal.. so manythings need to happen for us to at least win 1 or 2 games ,but this defense needs to make serious strides.

I think the other big question is going to be the return game. Can this team establish good field position or will we be starting back from our 10 every series.

10:15 AM 
Anonymous Hollis Keys said...

Book,while I do not agree with the decision to start Stafford it may be a good thing because the Lions do not need to have instant success just yet because they do not have enough talented players on both sides of the ball just yet to keep it going. The Bears presented their fans with fools gold a few years ago with 13-3 and then the next year went back to 5-11 and it took another year or so to return to winning because they did not have the talent base to sustain. For the Lions to have a miracle turn around just sets us up as Lions fans for the same disappointment. They need one more good draft with high picks to really begin to establish true lasting momentum and success. With the mistakes that Stafford is bound to make by the time a fully staffed roster is established he should by then be truly ready to excel.

11:37 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

It will be interesting what New Orleans will present Stafford defensively. Saints didn't have a good defense last year, but have new coordinator in Gregg Williams.

11:42 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Michael C,
I agree. The interceptions are a concern. Not so much the ones in the last two preseason games. They weren't his fault. But in college, he did get picked off at strange times when it was least expected.

11:43 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Good point, but he also has an upside Culpepper doesn't have that can lead to victories.

11:44 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I think you're right on with this. QB is the issue today, but Monday, the day after the game, it will likely be the Lions defense - or lack of it.

11:45 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Hollis Keys,
That Bears team was an example of how fickle the NFL can be. They literally got every break that year - and it did turn out to be a mirage. Lions will struggle this year. I see them with three or four wins.

11:46 AM 

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