“The heartbeat of a football team is the quarterback position and I think everyone who has any intelligence about the game understands you must have consistency at that position to be a championship team.”
These words of Ron “Jaws” Jaworski, a former NFL quarterback, pretty much sums up why teams all around the league are obsessed (and rightly so) with locking down a heavyweight at that position.
Said coaching legend Don Shula “Sure, luck means a lot in football. Not having a good quarterback is bad luck.
Yes, I may be stating the obvious when I say the quarterback position is absolutely crucial for football success (see Peyton’s Colts and Brady’s Patriots) but this is the exact reason why there is such a flutter of headlines over Matthew Stafford, the man under center for the Detroit Lions.
Stafford, a 6-2, 232 lb. quarterback out of Georgia, has played a grand total of 13 games in his three years as starting QB. This is an obvious problem and not “intelligent” by Jaworski standards. But although Stafford has probably missed more games than a franchise QB should, he also has been injured more than any three year franchise QB should.
Here’s a quick recap of Stafford’s NFL mishaps. He first suffered a knee injury against the Chicago Bears in Soldier Field when he was sacked in the fourth quarter. He sat out two games as Daunte Culpepper filled in. Soon though, Stafford’s hunger for the green drove him back on the field. Then came the game of game’s and go figure it was bottom feeder (Detroit Lions) against another bottom feeder (Cleveland Browns). In the epic 38-37 victory over the Browns at Ford Field Stafford suffered his first separated shoulder on the second to last play of the game. Despite doctors and coaches urging him to sit out he decided he would go ahead and play with one arm and throw the game-winning touchdown!
Check out Stafford’s one-armed workout here (totally worth the 30 seconds of advertising)!
But the injury list goes on. The beginning of the 2010 campaign saw the Lions “lose” against the Bears and if that wasn’t bad enough Stafford went down with another right shoulder injury. On November 12 facing the New York Jets, the young QB re-re-injured that same right shoulder after being tripped up from behind. This time, Stafford got surgery (AC joint repair and clavicle shaving) putting a wrap on his second season.
2011 reads a little different.
"I feel 100-percent," he said. "I’m ready to go. So whatever they have us doing, I’m going to be first in line."
A healthy Stafford is back and still leading the surging Lions. The organization has not given up and everyone knows the young gun-slinger has the top spot and it’s his to lose. So far, the Lions are 2-0 in preseason and looking crisp. The offense has scored at least 30 points in its first two preseason games and although Stafford has had minimal action he has looked good and healthy.
A lot of people are probably rolling their eyes at this point but Stafford has an answer for you.
"You guys can ask all you want," said Stafford, "I don't think about it. I just play football and whatever happens, happens."
This guy has resiliency and keeps coming back from these injuries like crime on Pacman Jones. The best pro-passer out of college is something the Lions believe is worth trying one, two and now three times.
If that doesn’t convince you worry warts out there that Stafford is the man for the club then maybe take solace in the fact that the QB has yet to be sacked in a whopping two preseason games thus far.
OK maybe that’s not too convincing either.
So I got one last piece to prove that Stafford will play all 16 games this season. Yup, all 16 and maybe even 17…
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