It was the hat all along. Matthew Stafford’s season deteriorated right in front of our eyes last year, and the coaches were unable to fix him before the season ended with the Lions giving away the division to the Packers. That’s reason number one why they’re “Ex-coaches”. Whatever they did to try to correct Stafford’s problem, they probably didn’t take into account that he was wearing his hat backwards way too often; at least that’s what Mike Ditka thinks.
I know Matt Stafford has a bunch of issues to contend with to improve his game. Even those of us wearing the Honolulu Blue glasses admit that he has a lot of improving to do to reach his potential, given the enormous gifts he has in that bazooka of an arm. Sad to say, Iron Mike, none of them involve which side of his head the bill of the cap is pointing. If Stafford had a great year and led the Lions to a Playoff win, do you really think we’d be hearing about that stupid hat?
I understand Ditka’s point- that the way he wears his hat is a symptom of the problem, his lack of respect for the game. Personally, I think Ditka should stick to doing commercials with “Norm” from Cheers, because it’s obvious to me he missed the point completely. Stafford’s problem was that he was quarterbacking in Mamby-Pamby land under the tutelage of softie ex-coordinator Scott Linehan. Ex-Head Coach Jim Schwartz and Linehan must have been as stern as jellyfish when it came to handling Stafford in his five years here. He hasn’t progressed at all. In fact he might have gotten worse.
Kurt Warner had it right when he called Stafford the “most undisciplined quarterback in the league” last December. Watching Stafford throw some of those balls last year was painful on the eyes. By the time he threw that late pick that sealed the Giants game, he was a shell of himself. He looked like Prince Fielder running the bases in the playoffs last year–clueless.
I can pretty much guess that when the Lions’ brass got together to articulate their off season game plan, the list pretty much looked like this:
1. Fix Stafford
2. Fix Stafford
3. Fix Stafford
4. Find a second receiver, finally.
5. Put up annual “Help Wanted” sign for Corners and Safeties.
The Lions know full-well that they were losing Stafford to Lionites, and pulled out all of the stops in acquiring talent to surround Stafford with the best quarterbacking minds available. After coaching Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, these new guys, Jim Caldwell, Joe Lombardi and Jim Bob Cooter, know exactly what great quarterbacking looks like. Unfortunately, here in Detroit, we don’t.
The Lions are betting that’s all about to change. I’m looking forward to seeing Ford’s latest version of the Stafford, the one that’s been properly managed. He could be wickedly awesome.