Tag Archive | "#1 pick"

Why Stafford and Lions are a bad marriage


DETROIT – When Matthew Stafford smiles at the camera and explains how he will “do whatever it takes to win in Detroit” I see a naïve Lionsyoung man who is oblivious to the fact he has just been thrown into the Lions’ den.

Stafford’s agent Tom Condon has represented his client well in landing the largest rookie contract in the history of the NFL but is money everything? Isn’t the idea supposed to be to play a game you love and have fun while you make the big bucks? If so, Detroit is the wrong place for Stafford.

In and around Atlanta, many of the UGA fans I have spoken to are quick to say how Stafford’s erratic play has frustrated them over the years. They remember how many quarters he spent overthrowing open targets and how he buckled under pressure in many of the big games. How will that translate to the Detroit Lions and their fans?

Following the organization since the days they played during snow squalls in historic Tiger Stadium, I have to say not very well. Many teams in the NFL have rosters that would support a long-term development case like Stafford but Detroit is not one of them.

Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay is a great example. Rodgers worked the clipboard for years developing his talent while watching one of the all-time greats in Brett Favre before stepping into a starting position years later.

That’s how the transition from college to the NFL normally happens and there lies the problem with this marriage.

The Lions’ fans and the city of Detroit have totally lost their patience with this organization. To the point they have spent the past month saturating blogs around the country with threats of dropping support for the team if they draft Stafford. Groups of fans have gone to the extreme of showing up at press conferences filling the air with “Don’t draft Stafford” chants.

These actions truly are nothing personal toward Stafford but rebounding from the most disastrous run in NFL history under a guy named Millen should not include converting a #1 overall pick into a high-risk player like Stafford when there are guaranteed starters like Aaron Curry and Jason Smith available who are projected to step in game one and play in the league for 8-10 years.

While some may argue that Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco are examples of the contrary to long-term quarterback development, look at the Falcons and Ravens rosters compared to Detroit and realize that Stafford’s situation is not the same scenario, it’s nowhere close.

Ryan and Flacco both stood behind offensive lines with time to pass; Stafford goes to a team who allowed a ridiculous amount of sacks in the NFL over the past few seasons.

Stafford will not have a mentor like Favre, instead he will have an aging quarterback who is clinging to his final few years in the league and unhappy fans and media he will be pressured into trying to please.

Tom Brady looked near-flawless during the Patriots’ record-setting 16-0 season, standing tall and confident in the pocket hitting receivers but when pressure was applied during the Super Bowl game against the N.Y. Giants, even he looked lost and failed.

Yes, Stafford’s contract carries an earth-shattering $41.7 million guarantee and keeps the checks coming in for 6 years but athletes want to win and regardless what they say in front of the lights and cameras, their egos are huge and need to be fed.

Right now the kid may be celebrating what he and his agent have accomplished but when it comes down to playing in Honolulu Blue, reality is going to hit and the fun will be over. How can a kid live up to a $78 million contract in a blue-collar city where unemployment lines wrap around buildings and boarded up foreclosures line the streets?

Stepping in and delivering results immediately like Matt Ryan did in Atlanta when he threw a 60 yard bomb for a TD in his first NFL pass may help a bit. A 60-yard Hail Mary to Calvin Johnson streaking down the sideline may make the fans momentarily forget how stupid of a move the Lions made.

The only problem with that is, that play was against the Lions and there is no other defense in the NFL bad enough to allow that to happen.

That is the reason we heard the supportive “Aaron Curry” chants and degrading “Don’t draft Stafford” chants; the team needs defense and they need it now and they passed up an opportunity to get a guaranteed starter.

Playing quarterback or goalie positions in Detroit takes the thickest of skin and I have never seen a rookie with skin thick enough to withstand the repercussions that comes with that territory, especially if they are not wanted to begin with.

The Lions have seen several past first-round QBs including Andre Ware and Joey Harrington flop and suffer faultering careers after being placed on Lions teams that had better rosters than the current team has. It’s a long process and Stafford is not capable of becoming the overnight savior the fans and organization needs.

Money creates happiness for a certain amount of time but after the enormous homes, extravagant vacations and collections of cars becomes commonplace, it all comes down to how much fun a guy is having playing the game he has grown to love.

After the dust from Stafford’s party settles and he is two years into his journey in a Lions uniform, will the few extra million he received by going #1 as opposed to #3 or #4 be worth it? I think not.

Copyright © 2009 – Sports Climax

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