Should Matt Stafford Be the Detroit Lions' Starting Quarterback?

Seattle Lion FanAnalyst IIJuly 1, 2009

ALLEN PARK, MI - MAY 01:  Matt Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions throws during rookie orientation camp at the Detroit Lions Headquarters and Training Facility on May 1, 2009 in Allen Park, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports.com says that Detroit should end the debate and start Matt Stafford.

He makes some strong arguments, using Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan as examples.  But for every Peyton Manning, a Joey Harrington is right there.

The gist of the article is that since the Lions aren't going to make the playoffs this year, why delay the inevitable? Allow Stafford to gain valuable playing time as a starter and adjust to the game at the NFL level. 

I have to disagree with Mr. Prisco. I don't know what crystal ball that he has in thinking the Lions don't have a chance of getting to the playoffs. I will grant you that it will be very improbable, but it's not impossible.

With that in mind, shouldn't you have the players in place that you feel will give you the best chance?

Yeah, okay, so Daunte Culpepper doesn't scare anyone right now. As Mr. Prisco points out, Culpepper is 32, with his best football behind him. He continues on by writing that the last time he was any good was in 2004 and had Randy Moss to throw to.

Excuse me there Pete, ever hear of Calvin Johnson?

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Stafford does have a cannon of an arm and appears to have a good command of the huddle. In minicamps, he was jelling nicely with fellow first-round pick Brandon Pettigrew and, of course, Calvin Johnson. 

I'm not saying Stafford shouldn't start this year. If the Lions are faltering under Culpepper, there would be little reason not to bring Stafford in. But keep him on the sidelines for at least the first four games. 

Why? Practice is one thing, since defensive players would be kicked off the team if they nailed any of the quarterbacks. 

Preseason games are just opportunities for hopefuls to gain a roster spot so the true speed of an NFL game isn't evident. Starters play maybe a quarter and then second- and third-string players come in. Stafford would probably do well since he would be playing a talent level he faced in college.

However, once the season starts, let him watch Culpepper and witness first hand just how fast the game is. Culpepper may have his best football behind him, but he can teach Stafford what to expect and help ease Stafford into the games. 

Let him start the second half of a few home games and then escalate to starting the second half of some road games, perhaps two or three at a time. Come December, give him the reigns if Culpepper is failing.

But you also have to consider this: What if Culpepper has a season like 2004? Should the Lions interfere at that point? 

Joe Montana, who many consider to be the best quarterback of all time, played behind Steve DeBerg for his first year. Steve Young sat on the bench for three years behind Montana. Tom Brady was behind Drew Bledsoe and, if not for an injury to Bledsoe, would have stayed there for a lot longer than a year. 

Schwartz is not giving anyone the starting job in any of the positions. He has stated that players will start if they are the best at their position and if they are ready. 

If Stafford shines during preseason, the choice is made.