The problem with Matt Ryan is he has ruined it for everybody else. Ryan had an off-the-charts first season with the Falcons and so now every team and fan base with a No. 1 draft pick at quarterback thinks, “Our rookie quarterback can be off the charts, too!”
If the Detroit Lions make that mistake, they’re going to screw up Matthew Stafford. And it’s not as if this franchise hasn’t wrecked quarterbacks before.
Stafford has played in two exhibitions. He has shown he’s not ready to step into NFL starting job yet. He has struggled with his feel in the pocket and anticipating defense adjustments, and it’s certainly way too early to assess leadership abilities. All three were knocks on him before the draft. Two exhibitions (one start) hardly define a career. I still believe Stafford will be a successful NFL quarterback. But the Lions would be making a mistake to rush him.
The Falcons were in a different situation last year. Ryan was ahead of the curve, and they didn’t have as strong of a veteran option (Chris Redman) as Detroit clearly has (Daunte Culpepper). If the Lions start Stafford and he flops, it may be hard for the former Georgia quarterback to recover this season, given he has never failed as a starter before and the Lions’ fan base isn’t exactly patient at this point in time. It would be easier to start with Culpepper and make the change later.
Stafford went 5 for 13 with an interception in his first start against Cleveland. He missed a wide open Adam Jennings for a sure touchdown pass. In two exhibitions, he’s 12 for 27 for 148 yards, two interceptions, one fumble and one touchdown. After the Browns’ game, he told the Detroit Free Press, “I just couldn’t find a rhythm. I wish I could have kept playing. … That would have been great to come in, sit down at halftime, come back out and have a new perspective on things and go and try to make some plays. But that’s not the way the preseason is.”
And the worst news is: Every team is looking like Florida.