Matthew Stafford was drafted by the Lions to resurrect the franchise. Before his reign as the Lions' leader, Detroit was playing an everlasting game of musical chairs with quarterbacks like Jon Kitna, Daunte Culpepper, Drew Stanton, Shaun Hill and many others.
All had their brief shining moments, but none have the talent or value that Stafford possesses.
Stafford is easily the most valuable player to his team, and the Lions will go as far as he takes them.
With a wounded backfield, and a rebuilding a defense, Stafford was forced to carry the load last season. If the Lions' running backs heal and perform to their capabilities, along with an improved defense next year, pressure will be taken off their young quarterback.
However, the future of this franchise still rests on the arm of Stafford.
Looking at some of his competition, Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub all ranked higher than Stafford on "Jaws' Top 30 Quarterbacks" list. Schaub placed at No. 13, Flacco at No. 9 and Cutler at No. 8.
The Houston Texans made the playoffs without Schaub playing for a significant portion of last year. With their third-string rookie quarterback T.J. Yates, Houston didn't skip a beat thanks to their No. 1 defense and strong running game led by Arian Foster.
Flacco received high praise from Jaworski, who said he had "strongest arm in the NFL." There's no sure test on arm strength in the NFL, but Stafford presents a strong argument against Flacco in that department.
Cutler is a vital piece to the Chicago Bears' success, but with one of the league's best running backs behind him in Matt Forte, and a fierce defense at his side, is he really the most important or best player on his team?
Stafford, to his credit, has much better receivers than his listed competition above. However, the NFL is still a team game, and the Lions don't have the run game or defense to complement their young quarterback.
Next year is a defining season for Stafford, and he must back up his strong campaign from last year. Another 5000-plus-yard season might be a stretch of a request of the Lions' young quarterback, but he must at the least lead Detroit back to the playoffs to unquestionably be named a top-10 quarterback.