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Stafford vs Culpepper

The Detroit Lions have a real quarterback battle on their hands and every fan has an opinion on it. So do I and I am going to go into detail about it for one reason. I'm right!

Matthew Stafford - The rookie is the future of the Lions and has shown signs of brilliance during the preseason. He has the ability to throw down field and actually hit his receiver in stride. He has a toughness about him that is willing to stand in and take a hit to make a last second throw. His problem is that he is still a rookie and makes rookie mistakes. Stafford is also prone to bouts of inaccuracy, as we saw in his dismal week-2 in the preseason against the Cleveland Browns.

Daunte Culpepper - He is the veteran quarterback who seems capable of not making the mistakes to kill us. If nothing is open down field, Culpepper will check down to make a short completion. Culpepper has also shown he has the elusiveness that makes him very hard to sack.

So who should be the starter? I have read a lot of comments by Lions fans recently. Let us analyze their reasoning.

"The Lions will not win a lot this season anyway. So we should start Stafford and let him take his lumps and learn." --- Taking a few lumps will do good for any rookie quarterback, but that depends on how many lumps. If he takes a few hits, it will introduce him to the NFL is all, but if he is sacked at record paces like previous quarterbacks? That can ruin a rookie quarterback. The rookie QBs who have been successful in their first season have been set up to succeed. They have good offensive lines and good running games to keep defenses honest. Until the Lions prove they can do that in regular season games, I have to believe that Stafford would lose a lot of confidence after his 20th IT or his 50th sack.

"Culpepper does not complete passes down field." --- What I have seen of Culpepper is more a product of what is given to him. Often the Lions coaches call screens for him. Sometimes he will look down field and when he sees nothing there, he checks down and dumps it off for positive yardage. This is a major reason he is not throwing interceptions while Stafford has 3 in 3 games.

"After watching a second time, I took a closer look at Stafford's incompletions. Two were near miss TDs, two drops (Brown, Jennings), one hail Mary miss (int) and one misread with TE route. It did not have rookie mistakes written all over it. Stafford is ready, there is no reason he should sit." --- In the third game, Stafford did indeed look ready. Have we already forgotten how many he over threw in week two? This shows me he is inconsistent, just like most rookies.

My theory - Consider the Lions fans. They are split on Stafford and Culpepper. Which ever QB starts, if he loses a lot, throws interceptions and such, the fans will start booing and screaming for the other quarterback. Now look at the Lions schedule. The first six games will be tough. They could easily start 0-6. If you start Stafford, and he goes 0-6 while learning, throws interceptions and makes rookie mistakes, the fans will boo and scream for Culpepper. At least the fans who want Culpepper to start will. That can ruin a young quarterbacks psyche. Even one as confident as Stafford. What happens if you start Culpepper?

If Culpepper wins a few games, everyone will be happy and nobody will complain about Stafford sitting and learning for a season. If Culpepper starts off at 0-6, the fans will be screaming for Stafford by the bye-week. The Lions could now trot Stafford out their to the delight of the fans and start him against the Rams. A team the Lions might actually beat. You are now starting Stafford when he actually has a better chance to succeed and build his confidence rather than ruin it.

By starting Stafford, the Lions are putting him and themselves in a position where they have to succeed or they could ruin their future quarterback like they have so many times before. If they start Culpepper, they place themselves and Stafford in a win win situation.

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