Detroit Lions: Is It Time to Bring in Shaun Hill at QB?

Jay WierengaCorrespondent INovember 16, 2011

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 30:  Quarterback Shaun Hill #14 of the Detroit Lions leads the offense against the Denver Broncos Sports Authority at Invesco Field at Mile High on October 30, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Lions defeated the Broncos 45-10.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Okay, don't get me wrong. I am far from jumping off the Matthew Stafford bandwagon.

I wrote earlier this year that I felt that Stafford could become the next Dan Marino, and I still believe that.

But we need to look at last week's game against Chicago through rational eyes.

First things first, Stafford is not comfortable right now. He has a broken finger in his throwing hand that requires him to wear gloves for the first time in his pro career.

This was painfully clear last week when he was picked off four times against a Bears defense that was eager to avenge an early season loss in Detroit.

Sure, the wind was to blame as well, but Stafford's ball lacked the zip that we have come to see from him and his release was noticeably slower.

When you can't properly grip the ball, a few things happen. One, it takes a bit longer to release it. Two, it does not have the same kind of velocity. And three, it tends to flutter a little bit.

This makes it look like a flying cream puff to defenders that are paid bonuses to pick off passes. Therefore, until his finger gets better, teams will be teeing off on Stafford's balls.

Secondly, Stafford does not know how to adjust to this new scenario, and you really don't want him to try. Stafford has developed into a very efficient and effective passer, and you really don't want him screwing with his mechanics in order to play through an injury that needs to be healed.

And that brings me to the third issue, this injury needs to heal. Finger injuries can be chronic, and if he continues to play through it, he could have lasting effects.

Personally, I have broken many fingers in my time. One in particular I never took the time to let heal properly and it still gives me trouble.

Stafford is much too valuable to this franchise to be plagued by a chronic injury to his throwing hand.

Now let's look at the upcoming games. The Lions enter a very crucial part of their schedule. After this week's game against Carolina, the Lions welcome the defending champs into their home on Thanksgiving, then they travel to New Orleans before hosting Minnesota, traveling to Oakland, hosting San Diego and traveling to Green Bay.

With their current record of 6-3, the playoffs are no longer a given for this team. But in order to get there, they will need a healthy Stafford.

That is why it is so crucial that Shaun Hill take over for a couple games to rest Stafford.

The biggest advantage Stafford has over Hill is his arm strength. However, with his broken finger, that is effectively equalized.

Hill is just as accurate and makes sound decisions in the pocket.

The game against Carolina will not be won by the quarterback. Detroit's defense will surely be the key in this game.

However, the Green Bay game is likely to be a track meet any way you slice it. But does it really make sense to start Stafford for either one of these games?

For the Carolina game they really don't need him, and the Green Bay game will be on short rest. Playing Stafford for both of these games could make his injury worse.

The smart move would be to play Hill on Sunday against the Panthers and then see how Stafford feels on Monday. If his finger is feeling better, play the next game by ear. But more than likely, hold him out of both games and give him a solid two-and-a-half weeks to let it heal properly.

That way the Lions will have their top dog ready for a playoff chase that should be exciting to say the least.

But more importantly, they will have their franchise quarterback available for playoff races for the next decade.