Matthew Stafford is heading off to the NFL.
As an SEC fan, I have watched Stafford throughout his career. I think this year I probably watched at least ten complete games of the Bulldogs.
I watched most out of curiosity and some out of the need to cheer for the team that was playing them. As a football fan you have to appreciate Stafford's arm—the accuracy, strength, and even the confidence.
The confidence that he can deliver the ball on a dime.
On one hand I was surprised to see him enter the draft. If you look back on his career, you would think that he would consider all that he left undone.
He didn't help his team win the SEC East, not even once. Hence, he never made it to the SEC Championship Game or a National Title Game. There were so many high hopes for he and the Bulldogs in '08. I am surprised he did not want to come back in '09 and rectify it or make amends with the fans.
Joe Cox maybe a fifth-year senior, but he is no Stafford or he would have been playing already.
On the other hand I am not surprised. Stafford is not from the Southeast. He came to Georgia by way of Texas. So, he did not know about the rich tradition in Athens, Hershel Walker, Larry Munson, and, "the hob nail boot," Lindsey and the infamous and dramatic past down the sidelines nor what Dooley did to change the fortunes of the Red and Black into national prominence again.
Because of his Texas roots, he found no allegiance to the Red and Black coming down the track. He found no reason to stick around when he was left pondering the move to the NFL.
So, Matthew, welcome to the NFL combine. Tell me what skills are you bringing with you? Is it that strong arm of yours? I say, "it was that arm and the unlimited confidence in that powerful arm that lead to so many poor decisions this year."
Now, this of course is speculation, but, I think he will do well at the combine.
Stafford though, is not a proven winner, therefore, he is not a proven leader. And it's the intangibles that I think everyone should be concerned about in Stafford. He decisions under pressure are not consistent.
He played poorly in all of his big games, or if he didn't play badly, he did not take over the game and bring them back in the fourth quarter.
Hence, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia Tech in '08 all ended up in losses. I am not expecting the Tebow show. But, I am finding it hard to believe that he will ever be the guy to mentally embrace his role.
In all the games that I have watched, he wasn't the vocal presence on the sidelines. Usually he had his seat on the bench waiting to go back in. I think with his success on offense if he could have projected just a little bit of emotions he could been a lift to team in any of their games.
Again, from a Gator fan perspective, I have been spoiled by Tebow.
I think the NFL Scouts see some good raw talent that can be managed at the next level. He played in a pro-style offense, has good mechanics, and Richt seems to produce good QB's.
Let's say he is going to go to the Lions or the Chiefs who are in need of a quarterback and some consistency at that position.
Do you really pick Stafford?
Can he come and learn the system and be an '09 Ryan or Flacco?
I don't see that in Stafford. I don't see him adjusting or embracing. I don't see the ability to bond and mesh and be a locker room presence.
It is obvious that both the Lions and the Chiefs are going to have new systems, coaching, and management.
Is a rookie QB the answer too?
Any quarterback has a slight chance, if you surround him with good players and put him behind a good line. I don't see that happening in Detroit or Kansas City.
What's amazing though, is that he obviously thought that the NFL is a better option than coming back for another year at Georgia.
Good luck in the NFL Matthew.
You are now a former Bulldog.