I AM BACK!!!!!

In the past, I tried to do too much with this site with way too little time. Yet, I have been feeling a need to write about the Lions lately. So I have decided to change the Detroit Lions Observer to a few basic things. Writing articles when I feel a need to, keeping track of their wins and losses, and I am still deciding if I will go through and update Ndamukong Suh's Sack List.
Ndamukong Suh's Sack List
Keep track of which quarterbacks Suh has faced and which ones he has taken down.

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6/17/09

How Long before Detroit Lions Fans turn on Stafford?

Matthew Stafford seems to be my big topic right now. That is because there is so much controversy surrounding him as the Detroit Lions new quarterback of the future. For the most part, I understand, that Detroit fans like Matthew Stafford... for now. But let us take a look at history.

Detroit Lions quarterback Scott Mitchell
Scott Mitchell - The year was 1994 when the Detroit Lions signed the left handed quarterback Scott Mitchell from Miami. For the most part the Lions fans loved the signing. In 1995 when Mitchell set the Lions single season record of 32 touchdown passes, the fans praised him. By 1998 Scott Mitchell lost his job to Charlie Batch and the fans hated Mitchell, complaining he was inaccurate and had no guts.

The fact that the fans never looked at was that the Lions offensive line grew worse with each year Mitchell was the quarterback. In 1997, Mitchell was sacked 41 times. I remember one game, in the play-offs when Scott Mitchell stood up from behind center and pointed at a linebacker who was set to blitz. He shouted to his line as he pointed at the defender. When the ball was snapped, the blitzing line backer came through untouched and drilled Mitchell. That to me, was the single most awful offensive line play I had ever seen.

Detroit Lions quarterback Joey Harrington
Joey Harrington - When Harrington was drafted in 2002, the fans were excited. As a rookie, he started 12 games and showed flashes of ability and plenty of toughness as he jumped up after being sacked and patted the defender who had drilled him into the turf on the back of the helmet, congratulating the guy for a good hit. After the 2005 season, Joey opted not to return to the Lions and the fans were excited to see him go. Harrington left the Lions as arguably the most hated player in team history.

The truth was that yet again, Harrington was never given a chance to succeed in Detroit. Roy Williams was the best receiver he ever had to throw to. We all remember how bad Mike Williams was and how bad Charles Rogers was after his injuries. Along with the bad receivers, Joey had the usual horrible offensive line play in front of him and no running game to make defenses honest. The worst thing Joey had going for him though, was the coaching. Steve Marriucci was possibly the most conservative coach and the easiest going coach in Lions history. He never disciplined his players. Rarely did he call for plays deeper than 5 to 7 yards. Rarely did he call for plays where Joey would pass across the middle. If one looks back at Harrington's games, they will find that he had his best games when he used the middle of the field and wasn't hit constantly. Everyone hated Joey for the Chicago debacle where he threw five interceptions. Nobody remembers that he was often throwing the ball as he was being hit. That he never had any open receivers to throw to. Joey never had the luxury of just getting the ball to where the receiver could catch it. His receivers were always covered. He had to thread the needle almost every play. He left the Lions a shell of what he could have been.

Detroit Lions quarterback Jon Kitna
Jon Kitna - When Kitna was signed in 2006, most of the fans liked him. When he threw for over 4000 yards, the fans loved him. Nobody cared that he threw 22 interceptions that year. When he threw for over 4000 yards in 2007, nobody cared that he threw another 20 picks. When Kitna was benched/injured after four games in 2008, the fans were glad to see him done.

Again the offensive line was horrible for Kitna. In 2006 he was sacked an amazing 63 times. He ate turf another 51 times in 2007. That is 114 sacks in two seasons. No quarterback is going to look good or get better when he is hit that often. Those hits took their toll on Kitna and in 2008 he was sacked 15 times in just four games.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford - The fact is, if Tom Brady is sacked 50 to 60 times a season, he does not become a star. If Payton Manning was to be sacked 60 times a season, he would not be considered one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. When a QB is sacked that often, no matter who it is, they begin to look for it even when it is not coming. Now we expect Matthew Stafford to be a star while playing behind the same line that has allowed 169 sacks in the last three years.

Right now the fans love Stafford. As much as I am adamant about how he should sit this season so they can get him better protection next year, the fact is they will likely play him this year. He will show signs of promise in his first year as Harrington did. He will be hit a lot. If the Lions front office do not get him better protection, then within the next three years the fans will be calling for his head as they did with Harrington. The only thing Stafford has going for him that Harrington did not is Calvin Johnson and possibly a better coach, but that is yet to be seen.

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