Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
None of the other guys in this slideshow will have a material impact on the success of the 2014 Detroit Lions. The season unequivocally rests in the hands of the former top overall pick who is just 26 years old.
Despite his young age, Stafford is facing an immense amount of pressure to immediately propel Detroit back to the playoffs. And those forces are absolutely right.
Obviously, assuming Stafford doesn't have a mental breakdown and start sleeping in cellular phone stores, he'll be the unquestioned starter in 2015 regardless of his performance. You don't give up on a guy who has averaged 30 touchdowns a year for the past three seasons and already has one 5,000-yard season under his belt while falling just 33 yards short of another one.
So please ignore the message boards and comment sections that have seen an increase in the mentions of a once insane topic—the idea of trading Stafford. Somehow, having a young signal-caller endure a tough stretch is now a reason to dump him.
Just to be clear, such discussion is still insane. How long has Detroit been looking for a franchise quarterback? 57 years?
Now, you want to give up on a guy who slid into a turnover-heavy funk over the last eight weeks of the season from a top-five perch? Don't forget how sharp Stafford was in piloting that 6-3 start. He was occupying the space just behind some guy named Peyton Manning.
And don't forget, despite that horrific ending to the season, Stafford still finished the year as the ninth-highest-graded quarterback in the league, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
That's not too shabby for a 25-year-old. Plus, the Lions spent the offseason getting him help on the field (Golden Tate, Eric Ebron) and on the sideline (Caldwell, Lombardi and quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter).
That all means Stafford might not be running out of time, but he is running out of excuses.
Brandon Alisoglu is a Detroit Lions featured columnist who has written about the Lions on multiple sites. He also co-hosts a Lions-centric podcast, Lions Central Radio. Yell at him on Twitter about how wrong he is @BrandonAlisoglu.