Detroit Lions: Why Culpepper Should Start

Chris StewardContributor IAugust 27, 2009

ALLEN PARK, MI - AUGUST 04:  Daunte Culpepper #11 rolls out for a pass during training camp at the Detroit Lions Headquarters and Training Facility on August 4, 2009 in Allen Park, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)


We all love competition, don't we? We love to watch two combatants match wits or muscles to prove who the alpha male or female is. The tighter the competition, the better it is.

Too bad this one was over before it started.

Okay, so the Lions made it interesting when they drafted Matt Stafford with the No. 1 pick overall in this year's draft. They also added intrigue with the proclamation of open competition for everyone in the locker room.

Wouldn't you know it, they even kept our attention by saying the starter will not be announced to the public until right before the Week One contest vs. the Saints.

But let's keep it real.

This "battle" was over when Coach Schwartz hired Scott Linehan as his offensive coordinator. In order not to beat the dead horse alive, I will not go into the history Daunte Culpepper has with Linehan. 

But when Culpepper came into camp 30 pounds lighter, every other QB on the roster was playing catch-up. 

While the rookies were forced to sit out the earlier mini camps, Culpepper was in the weight room and on the practice field rallying the troops; setting the tone.

Stafford never had a chance.

And he shouldn't have. Culpepper is the better quarterback, plain and simple. Sure, he might be holding the keys until the kid is old enough to drive, but that's OK.

I would rather he change the oil and tune up the engine than leave the kid up with a busted car stuck on the side of the road. 

But there are other reasons as well.

One, we wouldn't be having this talk if Culpepper never got hurt.  He was a top-five QB before his injury and stints with the Raiders and Dolphins.

His stats this pre-season shows he still has it; it's his receiving corps that has hampered the play calling, which is vanilla anyway, and his ability to make big plays.

Neither of that is his fault.

Two, after going 0-16, people tend to have this "What more do we have to lose" attitude regarding playing Stafford.

A lot. Like, more games.

This Lions team is about more than who is taking snaps. It's also about the other 52 people who suit up every Sunday.

Put yourself in their shoes.

How would you feel if, while working on a project at work that will pretty much make-or-break your career, your boss stuck you with some intern and gave him the bulk of the project? 

You knew this kid was smart and had a bright future ahead of them, but knew they wasn't quite ready yet?  How would you respond?  Would you do everything you can to help out or feel your boss set you up for failure?

Starting Stafford is setting the team up for failure.

Stafford is the future, sure, I get it. But giving him the team this early is basically forfeiting this season for the next. Is that fair to people who might retire soon, like Jason Hanson? 

Over the last 18 years, he has seen more good days than bad ones and would like to see good ones again, soon. He might have five more years in him, but then again he might not.

The team might be terrible again, but at least give them a chance to be good. Culpepper gives them the best chance to do that.

Finally, and this one I will keep short.

Stafford, at this point in the pre-season, hasn't even beat out of the biggest elephant in the history of elephants in rooms, Drew Stanton. 

So what if Drew has played against scout teams, he has been very good.  He deserves to be in the conversation.  Until Stafford can dominate him, he doesn't deserve the starting spot.