While the Detroit Lions are thrilled that Matthew Stafford won't have to undergo surgery on his re-injured right shoulder, they must now begin to determine if he will continue to be the future of their franchise with all of the injury concerns that surround him.
Since being taken with the first overall pick in the 2009 Draft, Stafford has only played in 13 out of a possible 25 games for the Lions. How can the front office depend on a guy that misses half of his starts at the most important position on the field?
This season he put up decent numbers in the three games he has appeared in, throwing six touchdowns to one interception for 91.3 QB rating. However, for his career, he has 19 touchdowns to 21 interceptions and a 67.1 QB rating. Those aren't exactly the numbers Detroit needs their leader to have if they ever want to be out of last place in the division.
While Stafford clearly doesn't have one of the top receiving corps in the NFL, he does have several quality targets and should be consistently posting more solid numbers. While the inconstancy in his play will likely get better with the more starts he gets in the NFL, there may not be a solution to the continuous injuries that have plagued Stafford through the first two years of his career.
Every time he takes a hit and goes down, it seems something happens to one of his shoulders. If he can't find a way to increase his upper body strength and durability, he may not be the future of the Lions franchise for much longer.
Considering Detroit is once again likely headed towards a Top 5-10 draft pick in the NFL draft, they would be foolish not to at least look at the options at the quarterback position in the early rounds of the 2011 Draft.
Alternatively, they could look to bring in a veteran back-up in the offseason that can take over whenever Stafford goes down, but they might need a long-term solution sooner than later if this disturbing trend of injuries continues.
While they paid a huge amount of money to sign Stafford, the Lions might not have a better option than to move on if Stafford continues to go the route of Chad Pennington in his career with continuous injuries that kill entire seasons.