While Matt Stafford’s health is obviously the biggest story surrounding the depth chart of the Detroit Lions’ quarterback position, we’re also witnessing something that’s been about as common as a playoff victory in Detroit–an honest to goodness deep quarterback roster. With last season’s acquisition of top-backup Shaun Hill, and the continued growth and improvement shown in Stafford and Drew Stanton, the decades long quest for a QB may have finally come to a screeching halt.
Last season, Lions QBs combined to throw for 26 TDs and 4001 yards–the most passing TDs in 15 seasons. That’s incredibly productive considering the complete lack of stability of the situation with three players splitting time. Last season’s production also rang through in Friday’s preseason blowout of the Bengals. In the win, the QBs threw for 3 TDs and 280 yards–with Drew Stanton being a victim of numerous dropped passes. Even the fourth-stringer (Zac Robinson) threw a perfect 32 yards strike for a TD to Nate Hughes.
While Stafford definitely offers the best chance for a playoff spot, I’m beginning to get the feeling that the Lions season isn’t doomed should #9 suffer another season ending injury. Shaun Hill proved last year that he’s a tough, hard-nosed QB who the other players follow. He’s not exactly talent-laden, but there are a dozen or so NFL teams that would love to have Hill competing for their starting spot. His 2nd quarter somersault into the endzone (note that he never got more than 6 inches of the ground) was the type of play that gets Lions fans pumped up and what they want to see from their signal caller. The play, however, shouldn’t be a surprise as Hill showed plenty of grit in his emergency starting role last season.
Drew Stanton has really given the Lions an ace up their sleeve. Stanton, surprisingly, chose to stay on in Detroit as the third string QB. It’s incredibly hard to imagine that teams weren’t calling him to be their backup, or even a couple possible starting competitions. Stanton would offer an option in SF, Seattle, Washington and Miami for sure. Can anyone definitively say that Stanton isn’t better than Alex Smith, Tavaris Jackson, Rex Grossman or Chad Henne? Unlike last season, there’s meaningful film on Stanton (he was particularly good at Tampa in leading Detroit to their first road win in years) so it’s hard to imagine that he didn’t field calls. That tells me Stanton is getting comfortable here and turned down better options to be a part of it, likely as the Lions #2 next season.
With the depth at QB the Lions now have options. Hill proved he can start in the NFL and Stanon showed enough improvement last year to at least make him an intriguing option. One thing that hasn’t been brought up much is a possible deal involving Hill or Stanton to acquire depth on the line or in the backfield, leaving the other as a backup the Lions can still be comfortable with. While three quality QBs is a nice luxury, it might be a luxury the Lions can’t afford to have if one of them can provide enough value in return.
While the defensive line depth gets all of the accolades, the Lions might actually be deeper at QB. Hopefully, they don’t need to see that depth in action.
Follow me on twitter for all my sports updates and opinions.