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Stanton May Start Against Bears

In the first week of the season, the Bears faced Matthew Stafford to start the game. After Stafford separated his shoulder, they had to face Shaun Hill. Now as the Bears prepare to face the Lions in their second match up, it looks like they get to see yet another quarterback for the Lions in Drew Stanton.

Word has it that Shaun Hill broke his index finger on his throwing hand during the Thanksgiving game. It is believed that he injured it in the first half, which would explain why Hill looked so bad in the second half of the game. In the first half, Hill was 15 of 22 (68%) and 1 touchdown. In the 2nd half, Hill was 12 of 24 (50%) and 2 interceptions.

Many of the Lions fans may not like this news, but I am not so sure it is such a bad thing. I would like to give the fans a different angle to look at Drew Stanton that they might not have seen. As good as most believe Stafford can be, it is very surprising when one tries to compare the two.

When Matthew Stafford was signed, he automatically began working with the first string unit. Once he was named the starter, he got all of the first string snaps to help him build chemistry and timing with his receivers. For a quarterback to develop in the NFL, it is paramount that he gets a lot of work with first stringers and sees some good playing time. This is something Stanton has never had. Stanton has always been the backup or third string quarterback. Most of his practicing has been with back-up receivers, against back-up defenses. So obviously, Stafford has had much better preparation time than Stanton has had.

Then you consider their NFL real game experience. Stanton has only played about three games worth of action that has come spread out between three seasons. No chance to get used to the game speed or into any kind of rhythm. Stafford on the other hand, played in three straight games to begin his career. So he worked with the starting units, got all the starting snaps and played in three consecutive games to start his career. Once again, it is obvious that Matthew Stafford has been given a much better chance to succeed.

Now here is the shocking facts. Their statistics comparing Stanton's 104 career pass attempts and Stafford's first three games that totaled 103 attempts.

Stanton . . . . . 55 of 104, 611 yards, 2 TDs and 7 ITs
Stafford. . . . . 55 of 103, 598 yards, 2 TDs and 5 ITs

After getting so much more practice with the first team unit and having all of his experience together, one would expect Stafford's stats to be a lot better than Stanton's, but instead they are nearly identical. Yet in the eyes of most fans, Stanton is horrible and Stafford is great.

I have heard fans say that they have seen what Stanton can do and they do not believe he can ever be an NFL caliber starter. After only 104 pass attempts, scattered through three seasons, they believe they have seen enough to know he stinks, but after the same amount of time (under much better circumstances) with Stafford, the fans believe he could be a great QB and needed time to develop. Yet there statistics were nearly identical.

After Matthew Stafford played in ten games in 2009, he was 201 of 377 (53%), 2267 yards, 13 TDs and 20 ITs. Looking at those stats and seeing how inaccurate he was on short routes, I was not a believer he was going to be a great quarterback in the NFL. But most fans believed he could be and needed time to develop. In the little time he was on the field this year, I saw where he was truly developing and began to believe he could become a great quarterback. But why should Stafford get 377 pass attempts and still we believe he needs time to develop, but Stanton doesn't deserve time to develop after only 104 attempts?

In no way do I sit here and tell you that Stanton can be as good as Stafford. I do not see these two in the same league of talent. But I will point out that Stanton has had far less to work with to develop and has put up very comparable numbers and that tells me he still has room to grow.

The 2010 season is lost. It is over! Te Detroit Lions do not have a chance to make the play-offs now and have a better chance of getting the first pick overall again than they do of winning three more games even. There is no better opportunity to allow inexperienced players to develop. This should now be Stanton's chance to start for the rest of the season. Let him have a chance to develop finally and see what you really do have. The Lions gain nothing in rushing Stafford or Hill back from their injuries. They have a lot to gain in allowing players like Stanton a chance to develop. Who knows? If Stafford never can stay healthy again in the future, we may just find that Stanton has what it takes to become a decent NFL quarterback. If he does nothing good the rest of the year, then the Lions finally know for sure and can let him go with confidence. But what if he does start to develop? What if Stanton actually learns how to read a defense once he becomes a little more comfortable in the pocket?

At this time, the Lions have nothing to lose in playing Stanton, but they have a lot to gain.

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