While some UGA fans still hold a grudge against Matthew Stafford for a) leaving school early and b) not winning any championship while he was in Athens, most Dog fans are still rooting for him to succeed in the NFL, just as they do for the many other former Bulldogs playing in the pro ranks.
So for those who’d like an encouraging word about Stafford, columnist Tom Kowalski of Booth Newspapers’ MLive.com in Michigan says Stafford is on the “fast track” to become the Detroit Lions’ starting quarterback when the season opens Sept. 13, despite Lions head coach Jim Schwartz’s warnings that Stafford still has a lot to learn.
So far, Kowalski says, “Stafford has passed every test with flying colors and cleared every hurdle with plenty of room to spare.” While “we are still seven weeks away from the opener and anything can happen,” he says, “people in the [Lions] organization believe Stafford is even better than they thought” when they made him the first overall pick with $41.7 million in guaranteed money.
The Lions are still proceeding with caution, so when training camp opens Friday Stafford will be taking reps as No. 2, Kowalski says, and Schwartz has said he will start only if he’s ready and is the best quarterback.
At this point, Stafford “already has answered one part of that equation. He is ready,” Kowalski says. “Whether he’ll be the “best” QB over veteran Daunte Culpepper will depend in part on whether Schwartz meant “that Stafford has to be the team’s best option to beat the Saints or that he has to be the team’s best option to lead the Lions to the playoffs in two years.”
Kowalksi adds that Lions fans are “as anxious to see Stafford start as much of the Lions’ coaches are — whether those coaches will admit it or not.”
Kinda takes you back to preseason 2006 and the choices facing Mark Richt and his staff, doesn’t it?