Not only did Matthew Stafford make it through an entire NFL schedule for the first time, he shattered the Lions’ passing records in the process. That answered two very important questions he was facing entering the 2011 season.
Can Matthew Stafford stay healthy? Yes.
Can he be an elite level quarterback? Yes.
The quarterback position is no longer a questions for the Lions for the first time in decades. That means Lions fans have no reason invested interest when looking at the list of free agents or draft prospects. More importantly, it keeps down any talk about whether or not the Lions should pursue Peyton Manning.
As it stands now, the only sure thing surrounding Peyton Manning’s situation is that he won’t be back with the Colts next year. Whether he plays or not is still in doubt but it seems like every team that could use a new quarterback has been mentioned as a possible landing spot. The Seattle media has even taken up the cause of recruiting Manning. It’s utter foolishness and I’m glad the Lions don’t have any reason to be involved.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Peyton Manning. As a former resident of Indianapolis, the Colts are my unabashed second team and a Manning jersey hangs in my closet right next to that of Calvin Johnson. It’s just that the Peyton Manning saga is more soap opera than anything else.
He’ll be highly coveted but there is no guarantee that he will help his new team like he helped his soon to be former team. It is possible that Manning never plays again, or that he can’t return with the kind of durability he once had. There are risks and they’ll be assumed by someone other than the Detroit Lions. That’s good news.
It is also possible that Peyton Manning is ready to resume playing at a high level by the time the next season comes around. In that case, the team he signs with could be richly rewarded with a few years of elite quarterback play by a guy that otherwise never would have hit the open market. Even in that case Lions fans can say, “so what?” thanks to what we saw from Matthew Stafford in 2011.