It is too early in the week to know for sure, but when talking about Matthew Stafford's status (see the quote below) for the Cardinals game, Jim Schwartz really made it sound like the rookie could be out again this week.
"Probably unchanged right now, but we’ll see as we get through this week. I mean, if he’s the same as he was last week, then he won’t play again. If he improves, then that door is open. But it’s probably too early to really definitively say anything there."
If Stafford ends up not being able to play, could this finally be the week that Drew Stanton gets his shot? In a word: no.
Schwartz was pressed about Stanton during yesterday's press conference, and it was extremely frustrating to listen to his answers to questions about why the former MSU quarterback hasn't gotten a chance to play.
On the perception being that Stanton hasn't had a chance
"Like I said, when we make a decision, it's not based on trying something new, experimenting, all those kinds of things. It's based on what we think gives us the best chance and we're going to ride with that decision, but it's not going to be based on just saying, ‘Hey, look, it's time - we've got to change just to change.' Or, ‘We've have to make this decision just to make this decision.' Everything's based on a set of criteria that we've established. If we think that fits our criteria, then we'll do it."
On if Stanton is not as good as Culpepper
"We spent a lot of time in training camp and offseason and during the season establishing what our depth charts are. Daunte's our No. 2 quarterback, Drew's our No. 3 quarterback. That's where that one is."
It's not too tough to read between the lines of those answers. Obviously the coaches feel that Stanton is not very good, which, I suppose, is why he isn't playing. I don't know how Stanton can perform any worse than Daunte Culpepper, but he must just not be very good in practice. That is really the only explanation as to why he hasn't ever received a shot at starting during his time with the Lions. I mean, there have been some pretty bad QBs in front of him the last two years, yet two different coaching staffs haven't given him a shot even once.
My biggest problem with this whole situation is that the coaches seem to be in love with Daunte Culpepper and are willing to look past or even justify his mistakes. I realize that the quarterback position is a different animal when it comes to accountability, but let's face it, Culpepper is 0-8 as a starter with the Lions, and although he is not the sole reason the Lions lost any of those games, is he even giving the Lions a chance to win?
Although Sunday's game ended up being a blowout, it could have easily been tied at halftime had the offense figured out how to finish a drive. Again, it's not all on Culpepper, but for somebody who has been in the league as long as him, he looked like it was his first ever start. I realize Schwartz doesn't want to make a change just to make a change, but what do the Lions have to lose? Maybe Stanton just performs well in real games and is a bad practice player. It wouldn't hurt to find out, especially considering it's not like Culpepper is playing even remotely well.
I know that Schwartz isn't going to apply his whole attitude of accountability -- make a mistake and take a seat on the bench -- to the quarterback position, but for someone who seems to have no problem benching players and throwing them under the bus after they make a mistake (see Aaron Brown and his "bone-headed play"), it just seems like Culpepper is getting off a little easy. I suppose some of you may have felt the same way when Stafford was playing poorly, but the difference is that he is a rookie and Culpepper is in his 11th season. At this point in a player's career a head coach should not be busy justifying underthrown passes, but that is exactly what Schwartz did on Monday.
On whether Culpepper’s underthrown balls were a concern
"Yeah – I think there was one he would like to have back; Calvin’s (Johnson) got the coverage beat over the top and then he wasn’t able to get the ball out where it needed to be; I mean that’s a long throw. The other ones weren’t as much of a concern because there was something that caused that play to be limited, whether it was rusher in his face, him moving out from the side, throwing on the run or something like that. Probably the one that he would like to have back – Daunte has a strong arm. But he’s got (Calvin Johnson) over the top, doesn’t want to overthrow it and ended up under-throwing it a little bit and wasn’t able to complete that one."
This is the one quote that I took the most issue with. Why did Schwartz feel the need to make excuses for Culpepper when he easily could have just said that mistakes were made on those passes? I mean, Schwartz specifically said that Aaron Brown was benched for his bone-headed play on the kick return at the end of the first half. Why didn't he make excuses for Brown? Because he benched him, but feels the need to justify starting Culpepper? Obviously this is all coach-speak, but come on, to justify Culpepper's underthrown passes by saying "that's a long throw" is just pathetic. Yes, that's a long throw. And yes, one of them was on the run. But you know what? Matthew Stafford can make those throws. Obviously that is why he is the starter when healthy, but a head coach should not be justifying bad passes by saying "that's a long throw." If it was that long then Culpepper shouldn't have thrown it. You might even say it was a bone-headed decision to attempt such a long throw if it was so tough for him. Never mind, that wouldn't fit the agenda of justifying Culpepper being the starter.
Perhaps I'm just frustrated with what happened on Sunday, but Jim Schwartz's entire press conference really irked me yesterday. I don't know what I would want a coach to do after a 48-3 loss, but it seemed like he backed off his whole accountability mantra, especially with Culpepper. Listen, I still have confidence in Schwartz that he will get things on the right track eventually, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't lose a little faith in him yesterday. I say that because I've heard that press conference many times before in the past. Maybe all coaches are like that after a tough loss, but we've been down this path before specifically with the Lions. Schwartz had a golden opportunity to really make a statement to the team in terms of accountability, but it felt like he backed off that attitude more than anything.
Like I said, I still have faith in Jim Schwartz; I just have lost some of it because of yesterday's press conference.