Grading the Detroit Lions: Quarterbacks


This post is part of a series of posts in which I review the Lions position groups based on their play in the 2010 season. I assign a letter grade and give you a chance to have your say with a poll at the end.

Matthew Stafford‘s season was deeply disappointing for his inability to stay on the field rather than his play on it. Injuries are certainly part of the game but Stafford’s 2010 season piggy-backed on an injury plagued rookie season in which he played in ten games.

Right or wrong, some fans are questioning whether or not Matthew Stafford has the kind of body to withstand the NFL game. It will take more time to answer that question but there is no reason to doubt his talents. Stafford had the Lions in the lead before leaving the game in week one, he beat the Redskins in the only game he finished and the Lions were on the verge of a big upset victory over the New York Jets before he suffered his second shoulder injury of the season.

Matthew Stafford played well but didn’t play enough to have a big impact on the 2010 Detroit Lions.
Grade: Inc.

The Lions organization knew that adding a proven backup quarterback was in the team’s best interest so they went out and targeted Shaun Hill last off-season. The move proved wise with all the time that Matthew Stafford missed.

The Lions offense didn’t look sharp when Hill took over in week one in Chicago but the offense hadn’t done a whole lot with Stafford in the game anyway. Shaun Hill wasn’t spectacular but he did enough to put the team in position to win the game if it wasn’t for the incident that would teach us all about the process of a catch. It was a mixed bag of results for Shaun Hill over the next three weeks. Hill was able to move the offense and put up some nice stats but ill-timed turnovers and a winless record meant it was all for naught.

Shaun Hill and the Lions broke through in a big way against the St. Louis Rams. Hill put up a 117.1 passer rating, largely due to his three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Some of the pressure of the season was taken away with their first win, especially since it came in blow-out fashion.

The Lions got what they were looking for in Shaun Hill; a guy that can step in and play when necessary but won’t challenge for the starting job. He wasn’t always spectacular but he was capable and was the man under center for three of the team’s six wins.
Grade: B-

Here I am writing grades for the Lions quarterbacks and I am having to devote time to the third string guy, Drew Stanton. It still makes me shake my head when I think about the way the Lions had to deal with issues at quarterback throughout the season. The fact that Zac Robinson, a New England Patriots draft pick that spent most of the season on the Seattle practice squad, served as the Lions primary backup at one point this season is surreal.

No honest fan would have hoped to see Drew Stanton in anything but garbage time when the season started. As it turned out, Drew Stanton was thrust into some very meaningful situations. He wasn’t a consistent performer but the height of the highs matched the depth of the lows.

Drew got some unexpected playing time when Shaun Hill was injured against the Giants. The comeback bid fell short when Stanton threw an interception. It looked like that was the only shot he would get until Stafford went down a month later against the New York Jets. Poor decisions by the coaches and Stanton allowed the win to slip away to compound the disappointment of losing Stafford to yet another injury.

Stanton tried to prove he is a capable NFL quarterback with a solid statisticAl Day against the Chicago Bears but the Lions unfortunately still lost the game. Just a week later, Stanton played a dreadful game but did just enough to lead the team to a 7-3 win. Whether the Lions won that game because of Stanton or despite him wasn’t an argument worth having a week later when Drew lead the Lions on a game tying and winning drives to break the organization’s league record losing streak.

Some grades need to be given out in the context of expectations. With that in mind, Drew Stanton should be applauded for his contributions to the Detroit Lions in the 2010 season. Stanton lead the team to two wins over teams with playoff aspirations. Forget the stats, that’s big time.
Grade: A

The disappointment of Stafford not playing didn’t keep the Lions from reaching the 6-10 record that many predicted for the Lions before the season started. I can’t help but think that Jim Schwartz’s no-excuses approach to football rubbed off on his quarterbacks. Sure, Stafford was out but all that meant was that it was time for Shaun Hill to step up. When Shaun Hill went down that meant it was time for Drew Stanton to step up.
Overall Quarterback Grade: B

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