Sports

April 26, 2009

Adam Krohn: Stafford set up for failure in Detroit

It’s a given — Matthew Stafford will fail in the NFL.

Just look his starting position in the league. The first pick of the 2009 draft will now play quarterback for the league’s worst franchise, the Detroit Lions.

The Lions are coming off the NFL’s first-ever 0-16 season. They’ve never been to a Super Bowl and have one playoff win in 52 years. Their best player in franchise history, Barry Sanders, retired about five years early after the 1998 season because, as he would later admit, he couldn’t stand playing for a losing organization. And, of course, there’s the Matt Millen Era, which was basically a series of horrible draft day decisions that worked to keep the Lions reputation for being losers well intact.

Does anyone really expect Stafford, a three-year starting quarterback at Georgia, to change the losing culture in Detroit? A hot-headed, overconfident 21-year-old kid with a rocket arm can’t take a team with no defense, no offensive line, no running game and an inexperienced coaching staff to higher levels.

Or, at least that’s never been done before.

Even if the pieces were in place on the field for Stafford personnel-wise, he’s not mentally prepared to lead a pro football team. For instance, look at how Stafford handled the 49ers psychological interview during the draft process. His true colors showed as he grew angry with the questioning. Instead of giving answers he asked the psychologist how much he was being paid.

With that attitude, Stafford doesn’t come across as someone that would do a good job handling questions from the Detroit media after a loss, or someone who could shake off boos from the crowd during a game.

Stafford’s temper separates him from his more even-keel peers in the league, young quarterbacks such as Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and fellow newcomer Mark Sanchez from Southern California, the fifth-overall pick by the Jets. Stafford comes across more as a Jeff George or Ryan Leaf type — arm-strong but not head-strong.

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