Detroit Lions: Build a complete team, but don’t forget the quarterback

Zach Wilson, Brigham Young Cougars (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)
Zach Wilson, Brigham Young Cougars (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Forget about a quarterback?

Just the other day when a few friends and myself were talking about the upcoming draft, one of them said, ‘forget about a quarterback. Jared Goff is serviceable, so let’s just build a complete team around him instead of trying the franchise passer route. It didn’t work with Matthew Stafford, so let’s just build a team that can win without having to be saved in the final two minutes all the time.’

In the NFL, the most polarizing position is the quarterback. If a team has one, then they have the opportunity, with any kind of decent supporting cast and defense to win games.

If your team doesn’t have one, then you are susceptible to lose games. Even with a good defense.

I understood what my friend was trying to say, but by his logic, he was saying that the franchise quarterback didn’t work because Matthew never led the Lions to the promised land. However, you need to look at the big picture here.

Matthew Stafford was the most gifted quarterback in the history of the Lions. But the argument can be made that Hall-of-Famer Bobby Layne is still the best in team history because of leading the Motor City cats to multiple championships.

Regardless of which side of the fence you choose to stand on in that debate, this much needs to be considered; Layne was surrounded by several Hall-of-Fame teammates, not to mention an outstanding defense that took no prisoners.

How much support did Matthew have?

In the modern era since the start of the Super Bowl, with very, very few exceptions the formula has been that to win it all you need a franchise quarterback, a very good to great defense, and an outstanding head coach.

Detroit never surrounded Stafford with the type of team he needed to win it all. The closest was the 2014 Lions that had head coach Jim Caldwell who possesses the franchises highest winning percentage in the Super Bowl era, not including interim head coaches, Matthew Stafford the teams’ all-time leading passer, and the second overall ranked defense of 2014.

The 2014 Lions made the playoffs only to lose to the Dallas Cowboys 24-20. Regardless of whether you want to blame the officials for picking up the flag against Anthony Hitchins, Caldwell for not going for it on fourth down, or the inability of the defense to get one final stop, it didn’t work out that season, but that doesn’t mean the formula can’t work in Detroit.