From 1999-2008, the starting quarterbacks for the Detroit Lions have been Charlie Batch, Gus Frerotte, Stoney Case, Ty Detmer, Mike McMahon, Joey Harrington, Jeff Garcia, Jon Kitna, Dan Orlovsky, and Daunte Culpepper. I’m no math whiz but I can tell you that those 10 players average out to one quarterback per season and I can also tell you that that ratio is not a formula for winning very many football games!
Now, no one is in any rush to put any of the aforementioned hurlers into the Pro Football Hall of Fame but there were a few serviceable arms among the bunch. For instance, Batch surprisingly steered the very first post-Barry iteration of the Lions to a wildcard playoff berth in 1999.
From 2000-2002, Garcia was a three-time Pro Bowler for San Francisco before he hit Motown (and made another Pro Bowl at age 37 upon his departure from the Lions). And Kitna was the 2003 NFL Comeback Player of the Year with the Cincinnati Bengals. Rounding out this list is Culpepper, who led the NFL in passing yards in 2004 as a Minnesota Viking.
My point is, during that decade, though Detroit employed some guys who were more than capable of winning games in the NFL but for one reason or another, none of them accomplished much of anything as the Lions signal caller. There was no real continuity within the franchise at the game’s most important position.
From 2009-until current, the starting quarterback for the Detroit Lions has been Matthew Stafford and Matthew Stafford alone (barring his early career injury issues). During his tenure, he has broken several team and league records and he has provided the city, the organization and its fans with countless thrilling moments such as his 8 come from behind victories that he spurred on in 2016.
His toughness, grit, ingenuity, generosity, and leadership has accompanied his cannon of a right arm as he has combined those traits to his advantage and used them all to endear himself to much of the fan base but there are still many out there who are dissatisfied with his service.
All of his records sometimes ring a bit hollow with only two playoff appearances (both losses), no division titles to speak of, and a less-than-stellar win/loss record against opponents who are above .500. Not to mention that competing twice a year against one of the best players to have ever played the position in Aaron Rodgers isn’t exactly helping his case either. On top of all that, his massive contracts have at times hampered the Lions from being able to fill out the rest of their roster with playmakers at various levels.
For better or worse though, Stafford has shown himself to be Detroit’s best quarterback in the Super Bowl era and that speaks volumes. Does he sometimes leave more to be desired, yes he does but he has also authored some of the most unbelievable moments in Lions’ history. I was a Stafford fan back when he was slinging spirals for the University of Georgia and I will continue to be a fan for as long as he suits up in the Honolulu blue and silver.
Last year may have been a down year statistically for him, but Matthew Stafford still has a lot of his best football ahead of him. He can still lead the Detroit Lions to the bigger and better things.