Posts Tagged ‘Daunte Culpepper’

No competitive Thanksgiving games for you!

November 30, 2009

 

Happier times: A Lions' Thanksgiving victory celebration after the 1999 triumph over Chicago. Since '99, the Lions have compiled a dismal 2-8 record on Thanksgiving

So Thanksgiving, one of the greatest holidays in the history of holidays, has come and gone in 2009.

For those who retained enough energy to overcome the inevitable tryptophan-driven coma and were able to catch some NFL action, well, if you’re a fan of Green Bay, Dallas, or Denver, congrats!

If you’re a fan of Detroit, Oakland, or the New York football Giants, or parity-laden football in general, Thanksgiving was a cruel, cruel day/night.

Going into Thanksgiving day, uncertainty swirled in the realm of Detroit football:

The statuses of both Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson were unclear until mere hours before kickoff (Calvin caught a TD and was otherwise blanketed by shoo-in All-Pro and Michigan alum, Charles Woodson, while Stafford channeled his inner rookie and tossed the football to Woodson and the Packers a grand total of four times).

Daunte Culpepper, he of the year 2004 greatness, seemed so blindsided by the Lions’ decision to start the injured Stafford (see: separated non-throwing shoulder), that what appeared to be a heated exchange between Daunte and GM Martin Mayhew ensued in plain view of tv cameras prior to the beginning of the game.

Ko Simpson, a decidedly mediocre NFL safety who took over for his decidedly mediocre predecessor, Marquand Manuel, when Manuel went down with an injury, was injured himself (the season-ending variety) against Cleveland. As a result, the Lions continued their rich tradition of embracing a patchwork secondary by inserting Marvin White, a relative unknown, into the lineup, and bringing Jahi Word-Daniels, a complete unknown, into the fold.

To make matters worse, although Stafford and Calvin were able to valiantly take the field and gut out 4 quarters of losing football, Brandon Pettigrew, the Lions’ stud TE and second 1st round pick from the 2009 draft, went down with a knee injury early in the 1st half.

 

Rookie TE Brandon Pettigrew went down with a season-ending knee injury, unrelated to his fan hand-shaking.

 

 

Pettigrew had caught 15 balls, including 2 touchdowns, in the past 3 games, and was really starting to round into form as Stafford’s favorite non-Calvin option. Pettigrew’s knee injury will ultimately be season-ending, thus cutting short a promising rookie season and obliterating the Lions’ TE depth. Only Casey Fitzsimmons, a serviceable albeit unspectacular backup, appears ready to contribute, as he did in stretches of the 2nd half against Green Bay.

So, just to quickly recap where we stand in the world of Lions’ football, the Lions dropped a briefly competitive decision to Green Bay, 34-12, in front of a strong crowd of Honolulu blue and silver-clad fans (until midway through the 4th quarter, when those with any sanity remaining began streaming toward the exits).

The Lions have now lost 6 straight Thanksgiving day tilts by an average of 23 points/game.

Elsewhere around the NFL on Thanksgiving, Oakland played, well, very Oakland-like football, in a fairly routine 24-7 thumping at the hands of the NFC East-leading Cowboys. Tony Romo played well. JaMarcus Russell didn’t play at all.

In the one game that NFL fans were anticipating to be a close, hard-fought affair, Denver capped off the evening by routing Tom Coughlin and friends, 26-6. Denver, which was in an epic free-fall after starting the Josh McDaniels’ era 6-0, picked up its first victory in five games and did so in convincing fashion in front of a packed house at Mile High Stadium.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Giants fell to 3rd place in the NFC East (trailing Dallas and Philadelphia) with a record of 6-5. Is this surprising? Of course it is. Eli Manning’s foot will be a topic of conversation for the rest of the season and the Giants, a team that looked like a surefire playoff team at the outset of the ’09 season, will now have to really turn things around in the face of mounting injury problems in order to avoid missing the playoff fun that Lions’ fans miss just about yearly!

So there you have it. Thanksgiving football was a letdown. But that’s okay. The Lions travel to Cincinnati on Sunday to take on the Bengals, who somehow, some way, are two games up on both Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

Win #3 on the way?

Well, we’ll see about that.

 

Matt Stafford’s our guy, but should he be?

September 22, 2009

As the Lions practice this week, already in an 0-2 hole that involved one crushing defeat and one NFC North defeat at the hands of Judas Favre, HC Jim Schwartz has already had to go on the defensive about the decision to anoint Matt Stafford as the team’s starting quarterback.

This, of course, leads to the inevitable question: Should a team, coming off the worst season in NFL history, be starting a rookie quarterback?

matthew-stafford-drafted-by-the-detroit-lions

There are 72 million reasons why this man should be protected at all costs

 Here’s where things get a little, well, complicated

 On the one hand, the Lions’ other options aren’t all that enticing.

 Daunte Culpepper, a quarterback who I’ve always really admired, has been too beaten down by injury (in some cases, carpet-related injuries) to be the answer. He hasn’t managed to play in more than 7 games since ’04 (not ironically, his last effective season as a QB).

Drew Stanton, one of the unfathomable number of former GM’s (he who shall not be named, ever, in these pages) failed draft picks, has also been unable to shake the injury bug and, in limited action, hasn’t proven that he can be a QB on this level.

On the other hand, the Lions decided to make an unprecedented investment in their franchise quarterback of the future and thus, they have to be extremely careful not to physically or mentally scar their most expensive player.

 

Can Stafford avoid becoming like this infamous, piano-playing former Lion?

Can Stafford avoid becoming like this infamous, piano-playing former Lion?

So, you might ask, what’s the verdict here?

Certainly, Bobby Layne isn’t going to emerge from the shadows and lace up his cleats. Not even Scott Mitchell, who sadly has become the contemporary model of success for the Lions, is going to ride in on a white horse and save the day.

Bereft of Lions’ “greats” (and, aside from Layne, I use that term quite loosely), HC Schwartz is going to have to play Stafford. The other options are simply fillers and, by all accounts, it seems like Stafford is mentally capable of handling the grind of leading a losing team in his first NFL season.

So, although it would’ve been ideal to have Stafford learn from the sidelines for a season, at this point, he’s receiving the rare opportunity to learn on the job.

Although he’s certainly looked like a rookie at times (re: 1:5 TD/INT ratio through 2 games), if the Lions’ makeshift O-Line can keep him relatively unscathed, he should have the opportunity to flourish sooner rather than later.

It's only a matter of time before this off-the-field success is joined by on-the-field glory

It's only a matter of time before this off-the-field success is joined by on-the-field glory