Oh, No, They Say Drew’s Got To Go . . .

Monday, August 3, 2009

On Saturday, new Den forum poster cajunrajan shared his firsthand observations from Lions training camp.  Especially interesting was his take on the quarterbacks:

“Culpepper was on fire all day long.  He was hitting everything.  Definitely his job to lose.  Stafford was fine, and hit most of his passes, but also had a few shaky ones that simply were not good throws. However, the ball comes off his arm like a missile, his arm strength is incredible.  Stanton was terrible.  He can't hit the broad side of the barn, and he had one insanely bad interception which Anthony Henry took the other way for a TD.”

Perhaps in response to that last line, poster reneboater started a new discussion entitled “Stanton Must Go!”:

“This is his 3rd year and he just doesn't seem to impress. He would be a wasted roster space with no future! Pick someone who can step in should he be needed!”

It’s certainly tempting to watch Drew Stanton practice, and decide that he doesn’t have what it takes to play quarterback in the NFL.  It’s fairly obvious that that’s what Jim Colletto and Rod Marinelli did in 2008—remember Colletto’s line that he wouldn’t want Drew to “embarrass himself”?  It’s true, Stanton’s arm is extremely inconsistent.  Sometimes, he can place a deep out with zip.  Often, he either doesn’t place the ball, or it doesn’t get there with zip.  Occasionally, he can’t make that throw at all.  With DS, you have to expect that extraordinarily gifted throwers like Stafford and Culpepper will show him up in shorts-and-T-shirt work (observers report Saturday’s practices were not in pads).  However, Drew Stanton’s worth is not in what he does in 7-on-7.  The reason Drew Stanton deserves a spot on the Detroit Lions roster is for what he does in games.

In case anyone forgot, let me remind you of his 2008 preaseason stats.  Drew went 7-of-8, for 85 yards and a TD, including a 50-yard bomb that landed right in Brandon Middleton’s breadbasket.  As most should remember, what very, very little regular season work Drew got in 2008 involved hitting paydirt with his first NFL pass.  Drew’s a gamer, and you can’t really evaluate him without taking that into account.  Schwartz himself has said so:

"He flashes. He hasn't been quite as consistent as I'd like at times,'' Schwartz said of Stanton. "The one thing that's going to happen with Drew is that Drew isn't the classic drop-back passer. He's going to make plays off-schedule a little bit and sometimes you don't see that at practice. You don't see the quarterback scrambling around in practice and extend the play and tuck the ball and run and those things. Those are the plays he made in college, that sort of defined him as a quarterback, that he could make those plays. We'll see that a little bit more when we get to preseason games. It's a little bit hard to read that style of quarterbacks in the stuff we're doing out here because you're throwing everything from the pocket in practice."

It’s obvious that the Lions are considering adding a more experienced arm to the mix, having worked out Cleo Lemon, Craig Nall, and Brooks Bollinger on the eve of camp.  Stanton’s chances diminish further if Duante is leading the Lions to a successful season; they’d have no experienced backup as they hit the homestretch.  However, so far the Lions have made no moves, and Stanton remains on the roster.  Once the armor is donned, the lights go on, and the Lions face the enemy in preseason battle, Drew Stanton will get the opportunity to prove he can make plays and win games for this team—and might face the Turk if he can’t.

Discuss it here, in The Den!