Inspired by Michael Silver’s 32 Questions over at Yahoo Sports, here is SLR’s version. Every four games, I will rank the most important to the least important starter for the Lions. In future editions, there will be a questions section where I will answer your question about the our favorite team, so go ahead and either ask in the comment section below or send me your question at latif.21@hot[email protected]
It was Sunday, September 12th, the start of the NFL season. The Lions were leading the Bears on the road. Excitement mixed in with a little bit of surprised pumped through every Lions fan veins. With about twenty seconds to go in the first half, all that changed. Matthew Stafford took the snap, and dropped back for what looked like an ordinary play and was immediately leveled for a sack and fumble by Julius Peppers. Generally when a play like that happens, the biggest concern for us fans is who recovered the ball, but at that moment, we had a much bigger issue: the “savior” of our franchise was down, and he wasn’t getting back up.
It’s been four weeks since that moment. Some players have stepped up in Stafford’s absence, others that needed to haven’t. The offense as a unit has shown flashes of brilliance and had stretches of incompetence, but there has been a silver lining to Stafford’s injury. In the three and a half games he has missed, we found out that our offense isn’t completely reliant on production from Stafford or even Calvin Johnson. Unlike years past, this team has a Jahvid Best, a Brandon Pettigrew, and a Tony Scheffler, players that can dominate games themselves, no matter who is throwing the ball.
At the same time, Stafford’s injuries are still a very big concern. In his first eleven games as a pro, Stafford has had three major injuries—and many minor ones that I’m sure were undisclosed. Of course, the injuries aren’t completely his fault. The offensive line does deserve a lot blame—and no its all Jeff Backus’s fault, the hits he took were vicious, and lady luck did play a part in all this. Still, some of the blame does fall on Stafford’s shoulders (literally).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not questioning his skills as a football player. None of those plays he was injured on were solely his fault, but when you get injured three times in 11 games and you play the quarterback position, where you are expected to be durable, it does beg the “what if” questions. What if Matthew Stafford really is injury prone and can’t be counted on to consistently be on the field? How far does that set the Lions back in their rebuilding process? How badly does it damage this team financially? How devastating would it be for an already reeling fan base?
These are important questions that, whether we like them or not, need to be asked and I’m sure we will get the answers to in coming weeks and months. The Lions play the Rams next week and I feel that there is a strong likelihood that Stafford will suit up. At the same time, as a Lions fan that has been disappointed time after time with this franchise, I am going to prepare myself for the possible reality that Matthew Stafford won’t play and maybe will never live up to the billing of the second coming of Bobby Layne.
Enough for the doom and gloom, here is this month’s 22 questions:
1) Ndamukong Suh: I know its four games into the season, but is he already the best defensive tackle in the NFL (at least this season)? If not, then how far is he?
2) Kyle Vanden Bosch: who’s more envious of KVB, Albert Haynesworth or the Energizer Bunny? (On a side note, did anyone else notice he looks like a human rabbit with the red contacts?)
3) Louis Delmas: In five years when Reed and Polamalu are wrapping up their careers, will Delmas be the best safety in the NFL?
4) Jahvid Best: If Buffalo and San Diego could go back in time and change their picks, would Best still be a Lion?
5) Dominic Raiola: Has Dom quietly been the face of the franchise past the past decade?
6) Brandon Pettigrew: Is he quietly blossoming into one of the best tight ends in the league?
7) Jeff Backus: How long will it be before Jeff Backus is blamed for even the defenses woes?
8) Calvin Johnson: If you had your pick, who would you rather have: Megatron, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald or Brandon Marshall?
9) Turk McBride: How is Cliff Avril still starting over him?
10) Stephen Peterman: Was he the only good free agent signing by Matt Millen?
11) Rob Sims: Was the Sims pickup the best offseason move made by Martin Mayhew?
12) DeAndre Levy: Anyone else notice the immediate difference Levy made in the linebacking crew?
13) C.C. Brown: Who can catch better: “Can’t Catch” Brown or Corey Williams?
14) Corey Williams: Why is he still starting over Sammie Hill?
15) Gosder Cherilus: Is he the “dirtiest” player on the roster?
16) Shaun Hill: Does San Fran wish they didn’t trade Hill?
17) Zack Follett: Has he been the most disappointing player this season?
18) Julian Peterson: How can a player that is supposed to be an impact player seem so invisible on the field?
19) Nate Burleson: Was he the worst offseason made by Martin Mayhew?
20) Chris Houston: How can a player as talented as Houston play as bad as he has?
21) Jonathan Wade: How long do we have to wait before seeing Alphonso Smith start?
22) Jerome Felton: Is he the answer to the Lions’ short yardage woes?