Sunday, September 13, 2009

On Tap: Detroit at New Orleans

The Matt Stafford era begins in Detroit today. Well, technically it begins in New Orleans. Wherever the hell you want to call it, Stafford will make his first official start as the Lions' quarterback. Coach Jim Schwartz declared a week ago that Stafford met all the criteria and won the job outright.

I'm supportive of the decision, despite my preference for Daunte Culpepper to start. I was not a fan of Culpepper when the team signed him last year, but today I have much more respect for him now then I ever did at any point in his career. Culpepper was offered a chance to compete for the starting position. He lost thirty six pounds between last December and training camp in July. He showed his arm strength was still there and he retained some of the speed.

He came back knowing if he did win the starting job, he would not be holding it for long. Culpepper was the stop-gap, Stafford was the future. After all was said and done, Head Coach Jim Schwartz opted for Matthew Stafford, a man who earned the position. Both earned it, really. It just came down to not if, but how soon would Stafford be lining up behind center.

All Culpepper wanted was one more chance to resurrect his career. Sadly, it won't happen in Detroit, unless Stafford is seriously injured. Otherwise, he will be watching Stafford on the sidelines as he struggles, even if it means the Lions go 0-6, 0-8, or even 0-10.

But on a positive note, Culpepper has at least earned another opportunity to resurrect his career. Just in another town for another team. Until then, he remains in my mind, a class act and a great veteran to guide Stafford.

Now on to the game.

The Saints' offense is probably the most powerful in all the NFL. Detroit's defense still has too many holes to stop both their run game and passing attack. The only hope for Detroit is for the offense to click on cylinders at all times. As long as the keep New Orleans' offense off the field, the Lions have a shot of keeping it close.

A preview of things to come, I believe this game will be over as early as the late third quarter or into the fourth. Considering that last year, most games ended in the first and second quarters, this is actually a step up. Remember, the Lions are relying heavily this year on rookies. Stafford at QB, Brandon Pettigrew at Tight End, and Louis Delmas at Cornerback.

Expect promise.

Expect miscues.

Expect fun!

The outcome:

Lions 17
Saints 30.

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