Detroit Lions quarterback competition: May the best man win
By Kellen Voss
Every NFL team needs a backup quality quarterback, and the Detroit Lions are no exception. Will Jake Rudock or Matt Cassel earn that primary role?
It’s pretty obvious that quarterback Matthew Stafford is the cornerstone of the Detroit Lions. His All-Pro play and clutch comebacks have been the cause of Detroit’s success in recent years.
Because of how big of a role he plays on this team, it would be tragic if Stafford were to ever go down with a significant injury. Heaven forbid that day ever comes, but if it does, the Lions will need a good backup to come in and carry the offensive load.
Last season, Michigan alum Jake Rudock did decent in that second-string role for the Lions. Although he only appeared in three games last season, Rudock showed flashes of solid play in the 2017 preseason, proving he could be serviceable if that terrible day ever came.
But this upcoming season may be different for Rudock. Despite his efforts last season, he won’t be able to simply step into the same role, thanks to quarterback Matt Cassel being added to the roster in April.
Despite being a new addition to the Motor City roster, Cassel is no newcomer to the NFL. The 13-year NFL veteran is probably most known for his time with the Patriots, where after Tom Brady left with a season-ending injury in 2008, Cassel still led the team to the playoffs with an impressive 11-5 record.
Cassel did post impressive numbers in that season, throwing for over 3,500 yards and 21 touchdowns in what was easily his best season. His efforts in 2008 turned a few heads, as Cassel earned a starting job and a $62.7 million paycheck with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Sadly, in his time in Kansas City, Cassel was never able to replicate that magic from his breakout 2008 season. He eventually ended up losing the starting job with the chiefs and has been bouncing around the league as a journeymen backup ever since.
As a 36-year-old, Cassel is clearly no longer in his prime, and this might be his last real chance in the NFL.
This clearly isn’t Cassel’s first time handling adversity. If he and his family could survive the infamous 1994 6.7 magnitude earthquake destroying their house and living in various hotels for months, he clearly can persevere and carve a place on this roster.
In the few weeks of 2018 training camp so far, Cassel has looked great in drills and seems to be the clear number two option at quarterback, taking more snaps than Rudock with the second unit. His veteran experience and hard work has to have contributed to that.
As the summer goes along, it should be interesting to see how the competition between Cassel and Rudock unfolds. The competition for the backup spot should bring out the best in both guys, forcing them to give their all to prove their worth and role in the offense.
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May the best man win, but one thing is for sure; if that horrid Matthew Stafford injury ever comes, his replacement will be ready to kick some tail.