The season hasn't even begun, and in my opinion, it already appears that the Detroit Lions have made a mistake. Head coach Jim Schwartz announced that the quarterback position would be up for grabs in the preseason, marking the opening shot in the battle between Daunte Culpepper and Matthew Stafford.
By my accounting, the duel was a draw. Stafford compiled better yardage numbers, and at times looked like the gunslinger type Brett Favre is often lauded to be, but he threw an interception in every game he appeared in, and had one returned for a touchdown.
He countered that with just one touchdown pass, and he finished with a very pedestrian 54 percent completion percentage.
Compare that Culpepper's 64 percent completion rate, and the fact that he also had just one touchdown pass, but no interceptions, and the reasons Stafford won the starting job become less clear.
Culpepper may not have looked downfield as much as Schwartz & company would like, and that might have played a role in it, (Schwartz has not been, and most likely will not be forthcoming on exactly how he arrived at his decision) Culpepper’s ball security certainly gives me a better feeling.
Heck, coming down to numbers alone, Drew Stanton beat out Stafford.
Of course you can’t go by pure numbers in the preseason. So what were the Lions’ coaches looking at when they handed the job to Stafford? Is it that Culpepper is still hurting from his fight with the carpet monster? Schwartz made no allusions to injuries being the reason Stafford won out.
Is it that the coaches have already come to terms with something they aren’t telling anyone else? Is the organization already looking at this season as nothing more than a rebuilding season? Is four wins the most they expect to collect?
That would certainly explain benching the proven veteran who by all accounts is rejuvenated and ready to go, and starting the rookie who hasn’t proven anything. If that’s the case, if the team has already decided the season is over, then the move certainly makes sense. It also does the fans a disservice.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never been a big fan of Stafford’s. I never quite understood the hype surrounding him when he played at Georgia. He seemed to be just another under achiever on a team loaded with talent, that rarely delivered.
He certainly has less comparable talent around him now than he did with the Bulldogs, and he led them to zero championships.
Now Stafford is being leaned on to take this team to the promised land, and instead of giving him time to acclimate himself to that task, he's being thrown into the fire. Maybe Stafford can be the next Matt Ryan, leading a tremendous turnaround, and taking his team to the playoffs in the first season of his career.
Or maybe he'll be everyone's cautionary tale, Tim Couch. Great college quarterback who went from "Face of the Franchise", to backup quarterback, to out of the league with astounding speed.