The era of the quarterback has revolutionized modern day football and taken the league to new heights. It now features teams making the jump from bottom-of-the-barrel to the playoffs in seamless fashion.
Look no furthur than this past season — with a Colts organization moving on from legendary quarterback Peyton Manning — as Andrew Luck led one of the greatest turnarounds in this sports illustrious history, going from a disastrous 2-14 to an 11-5 wild card berth. Robert Griffin III did a similar feat, taking a befuddled Washington Redskins organization, that won only five games the previous season, to the NFC wild card game versus the Seattle Seahawks — another team that, under the right quarterback leadership, flipped the script and made it to the postseason.
In 2009, the Lions Organization made its best selection since Barry Sanders, selecting Matthew Stafford with the first overall pick. He started just 13 games in his first three seasons, due to knee and shoulder injuries, before breaking out in 2011. But he regressed this past season, dropping his completion percentage and passer rating considerably.
Yes, Stafford has yet to take that “next step” many thought would come after leading the Lions to the postseason. And yes, the the jury is still out on whether he deserved his new contract. But Martin Mayhew has tossed all of his eggs into Stafford’s basket, to renew a hungry fanbase and bring the organization back to the playoffs. They’ve continued the effort to surround him with playmakers, drafting eight offensive players in the first three rounds since Stafford’s arrival, and bringing in Reggie Bush this past offseason to take the pressure off the Lions pass-happy offense.
But why the let down? Why the mechanical and fundamental errors?
“People talked about his mechanics, sometimes he throws around a guy or he gets pressure inside,’’ Mayhew told Paula Pasche. “To me a quarterback’s mechanics are sort of like a tennis player’s serve — you’re always working on that. You don’t ever just go ‘Hey, I’m done with that.’ He’s always working on his mechanics and trying to get them better.’’
It’s something Stafford has vowed to work on this offseason, while taking on a heightened leadership role within the locker room.
It’s time. He has the talent around him. Nate Burleson, Ryan Broyles and Calvin Johnson present a formidable wide receiving core. Bush brings the explosion this offense has sorely missed since Jahvid Best.
The time has come, the pieces are together and the front office has exercised all of its options. The year is upon them, now it’s time to seize the moment.