The cautionary tale of another Georgia Bulldog QB

Saturday, July 18, 2009

David Greene was a star at Georgia.

Matthew Stafford was a star at Georgia.

It’s the sincere hope of Stafford and the Detroit Lions that the similarities will end there.

Nice posting by Jeff Schultz in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's blog.

Writes Schultz:

Five years ago, David Greene was college football gold. He broke the NCAA record for most wins. He threw for more passing yards than any quarterback in SEC history (including Peyton Manning). Maybe he wasn’t projected as an NFL star. But he was drafted in the third round by Mike Holmgren, who had made a career of molding quarterbacks into Super Bowl champions, so that had to mean something.

Today, David Greene sells insurance.

Greene spent four years in the NFL. He never started a game. He tells Schultz he had a big adjustment period. He struggled with the new playbook terminology. Coaches re-worked his drop. "I felt like I had zero carryover from college," Greene said.

“As talented as Stafford is, he’s got the arm to be successful,” Greene said. “But I don’t know any college quarterback who doesn’t have growing pains as a pro. It’s just a completely different game. Everybody struggles. Look at [Troy] Aikman. Look at Manning. [Ben] Roethlisberger is about the only one who did well but he had the perfect system to step into and a great team around him.”

When reminded of Matt Ryan’s spectacular first season with the Falcons, Greene said: “He throws off the curve. What he did was unheard of.”

Schultz makes clear that Greene never had Stafford's physical gifts. But he wasn't junk, either. "Greene projected as at least solid NFL backup because he was successful, smart and never appeared overwhelmed," Schultz writes.

While Stafford has the talent to step right in to the Lions' starting role, whether he's truly ready is another question. "Some scouts have questioned his feel for pressure in the pocket. There were accuracy issues at times in Athens. Also a few underwhelming performances in big games," Schultz writes.
“With Stafford, it’s just going to depend on how well he catches on,” Greene said. “I never got comfortable playing in the system and my reps were limited.”

My take? Reps for Stafford obviously won't be a problem. And we're hearing he already has a good grasp of the playbook. Greene's experience is no more an indicator of what's going to happen with Stafford than Joey Harrington's was. Still, it's good to remember stories like Greene's to keep the enthusiasm at realistic levels.

Talk about it in The Den!