Detroit Lions fans typically have a complicated relationship with their starting quarterback, but after what the team witnessed Sunday, that should never be the case again as it relates to Matthew Stafford.
Faced with life without Stafford for the first time since 2011, things predictably didn’t go so well for Detroit. Jeff Driskel, his chosen replacement, dink and dunked the Lions down the field most of the game and managed things decently, but couldn’t uncork the big play to get the offense over the hump. Typically, Stafford is routinely good for multiple plays like that every game.
Much like Stafford, Detroit’s defense did nothing to support Driskel against the Chicago Bears in a 20-13 loss, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Lions looked like a vastly different team without their leader and quarterback on the field.
Stafford has been criticized by fans through the years for every mistake he makes and his inability to win the big game, but without him, Detroit looked no better than the hapless Miami Dolphins, New York Jets or Cincinnati Bengals. Simply put, Stafford gives the team a chance to win in every game he plays. Plenty of times, in spite of this pathetic defense, he manages to pull games out.
Still, all Stafford seems to get from some is grief. Even in spite of an MVP level season in 2019, Stafford’s impact has been criminally undervalued by even the national media. He operates in the shadows most of the time for the Lions, until the day everyone got a reminder what things would be like if suddenly Stafford were gone.
Jeff Driskel Didn’t Get It Done
On the afternoon, the Lions managed 357 total yards. Worse, Driskel only passed for 269 through the air and only hit Kenny Golladay for one big play on a breakdown in coverage. He tossed an ugly interception straight to the Bears which led to some easy points for a woeful offense. Most of the day, his best play was the check down minus a few scrambles on broken plays. The team only scored one touchdown despite showing a slight ability to move the ball.
Bob Quinn has not managed to find anything capable at backup, signing washed up veterans and young players who have not been able to make a difference in the league to back Stafford up. He hasn’t developed a young quarterback in his tenure. Stafford is typically durable, but in the NFL, there is always the chance of one hit being the end of a team’s quarterback. Today, Quinn’s risk was shown not to pay off.
The Lions could have won the game with a more functional quarterback calling the shots. Now, they are stuck with Driskel and will have to see if he can engineer anything. Perhaps this situation will help the Lions realize how quietly important backup quarterback can be in the NFL.
Matthew Stafford Deserves Love
Those Lions fans still copping an attitude about the quarterback position should drop the act with Stafford. If he doesn’t get the job done in his Detroit tenure, there will be plenty of other reasons to remember as it relates to why. Perhaps the team won’t find the right collection of players on defense, or the right coaching staff in order to get him where he needs to go. It isn’t for a lack of talent and care on the quarterback’s part.
Stafford is one of the most committed, driven individuals on the team. He carries himself with professionalism, and he’s also pretty darn good at football.
The Lions could have beaten the Bears with Stafford in the mix on Sunday. As many things go, fans never truly get to appreciate someone until they’re gone