Welcome back! Vacation was great, but there is football being played! The Lions Congregation is back at it, tackling your questions on all things Lions. Have a question? Email Lionscongregation@yahoo.com
This week's Panel:
Al of The Wayne Fontes Experience
Steve of Detroit Lions Weblog
Zac of The Sidelion Report
Net Rat of The Net Rat Detroit Lions Site
Joshua Pung DetFan1979 of DetFan1979.com
Question 1: Jimmy R. wants to know why the Lions didn't/won't put Stafford on IR. Is there a reason other than a vague hope of him playing?
Al: Why is Stafford still on the 53 man roster? I have no freaking idea, Jimmy. I've been asking the same question since Stafford tore up his shoulder against the Jets.
There's no reason to play Stafford unless he's 100% healthy. From all accounts (all rumors, as Jim Schwartz isn't talking), the odds Stafford can take the field before the end of the season are slim, at best. I'm long on record saying the Lions keeping a seriously injured player on the roster, when others are dropping like flies, doesn't make a Hell of a lot of sense. But the Lions are willing to use a roster spot, and carry four quarterbacks, regardless.
I've always believed in the principle of Occam's razor, which is "The simplest explanation is more likely the correct one." So saying Stafford has remained on the roster because the Lions have a "vague hope" he'll play before the season ends is as good of an answer as any...and if you go by Occam's razor, it's probably the correct one.
Steve: The Lions likely want to keep the potentiality of his return open, so that they can continue to market interest in his return. If Stafford's season is eventually put on ice, a number of fans would also subsequently check out.
Furthermore, if Stafford doesn't return this season, the criticism over his lack of durability and speculation about whether he was a busted draft pick (or not?) would only increase.
I firmly believe that Stafford would love to return. He is hungry, and as a burgeoning team leader, likely feels a certain amount of accountability to himself, the fans, and the franchise, itself.
As the season continues, and Stafford continues to rehabilitate, his imminent return will remain a hot topic. As imprudent as it may seem, I am all for getting Stafford back onto the field, gaining valuable experience, while establishing himself as a legitimate franchise QB, rather than preserving him for posterity's sake.
Zac: The Lions haven't put Stafford on IR because they believe he could be healthy enough to play again this season. They have been very consistent in saying that he will play when healthy, even if it is only for one game. The only cost of not putting him on IR is the inability to fill Stafford's roster spot with a healthy body. The Lions obviously place a higher value on potentially getting Stafford more game action this year over bringing in another journeyman that won't make any long term contributions.
NetRat: If Stafford is not on IR he can practice with the team (even if he's not throwing). Plus, there is a chance he could play a game or two before the end of the year to get some more experience (and snaps DO count).
DetFan1979: If he went on IR not only would his season be over, but Stafford would not be able to practice with the team. Even if he comes back just for a half of a game against the totally imploded, exploded, and indescribable Vikings those gameday snaps are important -- as are the throwing session during the week, even if they only limited. Limited is better than away from the team. This way he is around the team, and all it cost them was a roster spot on a team that was essentially eliminated from the playoffs -- a spot that would have been used on someone who wouldn't be around next year anyway. The development of Stafford trumps that by far.
Question 2: What exactly has Drew Stanton shown in his two starts with the Lions? Backup, potential starter, or 3rd stringer til he's out of the league?
Al: Surprisingly, Stanton has shown he's capable of winning a game in the NFL, if used properly. And just how did the Lions use Stanton properly in beating the Packers last Sunday? By taking the ball out of Stafford's hands, and using his mobility instead.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement for your quarterback, but it worked.
Stanton was placed behind the 8-ball in his rookie season when then offensive coordinator Mike Martz wanted his pet quarterback project, J.T. O'Sullivan, on the roster, instead of Stanton. Martz thought Stanton's mechanics needed to be broken down and rebuilt from scratch...and to be honest, Martz didn't want Statnon on the team at all.
So Stanton was (stupidly, in my opinion) placed on IR, which ended up costing him the first two years of his career. Stanton was been scrambling to catch up in his development ever since.
Stanton was drafted to be the Lions' quarterback of the future. For obvious reasons (over $40 million of them), that's no longer the case. It's pretty much a given Stanton won't be the backup for the Lions either, not with Shaun Hill under contract. If Stanton has a future in the NFL, it won't be inDetroit...and that's best for both parties.
Stanton needs a fresh start, and the Lions have cast their lot with Matthew Stafford. Not that talent-wise, they compare. Stafford has a chance to be great, Stanton has a chance to be a journeyman. The accuracy The Lions are making the right decision, but it's the previous regime's fault Stanton never had a real shot in Detroit in the first place.
Best case, Stanton sticks in the NFL as a backup...and after four seasons in the league, I don't think he can hope for much more. Fifth year quarterbacks are rarely kept on as third string, unless the team has major injury issues. That position is normally held by a developmental quarterback, not a player going into his second NFL contract.
But in the end, I think Stanton will be a backup somewhere in the NFL next season, just not in Detroit. Hell, if Dan Orlovsky can find a backup job after stinking it up with the Lions...why not Drew Stanton?
Steve:I think Stanton is exactly the player many Lions fans thought that he was. He has good feet, is gutsy, and may have even more leadership ability than was originally expected.
That being said, Stanton is an inaccurate passer, doesn't have the greatest footwork, and is prone to making poor decisions, at any moment. The Lions offense with Stanton at QB has certainly been less productive than it was with Shaun Hill, earlier in the season.
I believe that Stanton is a marginal NFL player at best, who may become jobless if the Lions don't retain him in the upcoming months. He is a third-stringer, with a marginal argument being made that he could continue to provide grit and leadership as second-stringer.
As a Michigan State fan, I am glad the spirited Stanton has performed well in his brief opportunity, but it is clear that there is a huge talent gap between he and Matthew Stafford, which overrides any of his gumption or intangibles. He is much more likely a UFL starter, than ever becoming a NFL starting QB.
Zac: Drew Stanton has proven that he is not a legitimate NFL quarterback. He outperformed expectations in his first start and managed a win in his second start but the difference between Shaun Hill and Drew Stanton is like night and day. Any talk of Stanton as a potential starter is laughable although I suppose he could land as a backup with someone in a desperate situation. The problem with Stanton hanging around the league as a third stringer is that those spots are usually filled by guys in their first three years in the league that teams think could have some developmental value. Sure, Stanton's growth was stunted by Mike Martz but there may not be many teams out there that are willing to consider that.
NetRat: Drew Stanton has shown that he'd have a hard time making the 49ers roster. Perhaps if he changed his name to Smith? Seriously though, he is simply too inconsistent. One game he's more or less spot on, the next he couldn't hit the ground standing on a ladder. I figure he checks out FA, someone might give him a chance but I seriously have my doubts.
DetFan1979: Shaun Hill is a great backup, borderline starter. He can play with little prep time and do well for stretches of time, but doesn't have the same top end as a Stafford, Shaub, Rodgers, Brady, Manning. However, he's the guy you feel confident can come in and take over if the #1 guy goes down.
Drew Stanton is not. He is a great athlete, great guts, great personality horrible decision making and pocket presence. He can get it done on occasion -- like one drive in the Green Bay game. However, he is inconsistent, has a poor feel for the pocket, and doesn't see the whole field while having trouble reading defenses. In other words, he is a #3 QB. If your talent level at this point of his career is still #3...well, you will be replaced by someone who may develop into a solid backup some day.
That being said, Dan Orlovsky is still a backup, and Rex Grossman is in Washington and even Patrick Ramsey is getting another go-round after two years out of football. Anything can happen, I guess and some team may see him as a cheap insurance option. If I were Drew though, I would be sharpening the resume and getting ready to transition to his post-NFL career.
Have a question for the panel? Email Lionscongregation@yahoo.com