The League

Sean Yuille
Lions Blogger

Sean Yuille

The lead writer for Pride Of Detroit, a Detroit Lions blog.

Fans Want Stafford

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Back in April, nearly all Lions fans assumed that Daunte Culpepper would be the starter at the beginning of next season. Although he struggled in his limited time with Detroit in 2008, reports since then have been positive -- he dropped 30 pounds since the New Year and is in excellent shape. Well, that was then. Now, all the talk is about Matthew Stafford. Part of that is just the usual hype that comes with a top draft pick finally showing off his skills on the field, and the other part is the realization, by many, that Stafford may be ready to play quicker than originally expected.

Head coach Jim Schwartz set the parameters for when Stafford will see the field last month: 1) when he is ready; 2) when the team is ready for him. The first part is pretty simple. Stafford has to be ready to start in the NFL and be at a level where he will be effective. Until that happens, he won't see the field as a starter. The second part is a bit more complicated strictly because there are so many question marks surrounding Culpepper. He will play the biggest part in when Stafford gets to start, as the team won't be ready for him until Culpepper gives them a reason to be. If Culpepper performs well during training camp and the preseason, it is still expected that he will start. He is a veteran, and if he can get back to even half the level he played at back in his Vikings days, then the Lions' offense could be pretty fun to watch. At the same time, if he falters and makes the team strongly consider starting Stafford, a few flashes of potential from the former Georgia quarterback may be all it takes for the rookie to climb the depth chart.

As Lions fans wait for the start of training camp, the top thing on everyone's mind is what should happen with Stafford. Before anybody got a look at him on the practice field, the consensus opinion was to hold off on throwing him out there until 2010, giving him ample time to adjust to the NFL and learn behind a veteran. Now that we've had a taste of what he is capable of, however, the tide among fans is shifting to wanting him to start from the very beginning. The compromise, of course, is for Culpepper to be the starter in Week 1 and see how it goes. If the Lions aren't winning, then slowly make the transition to Stafford in the middle of the season. If things are going well, let Culpepper continue to start.

As much as I want to see Stafford play, my preference is that Culpepper plays well enough to keep him relegated to the bench until 2010. With that being said, if Stafford proves he is capable of playing in the NFL and shows he can make more of a positive impact on the team than Culpepper, then by all means hand the reins over to the rookie.

By Sean Yuille  |  July 1, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  | Category:  Detriot Lions , Draft , New York Jets Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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