No, Stafford has not been traded or cut. Instead, it was a back injury that caused the Lions quarterback to miss his first game in nearly a decade. In his stead was Jeff Driskel, and while he performed decently — especially on such short notice — he is no replacement for Stafford. Entering the second half of the season, Stafford was playing on an MVP level and his absence was missed against the Bears.
His injury is week-to-week, and there was optimism that he would play heading into Sunday. If it weren’t for the doctors ruling him out, Stafford likely would have been on the field. Stafford is an incredibly tough player with a passion for the game and his teammates. Still, rushing Stafford back is inadvisable, especially given the state of the season.
With the playoffs becoming an ever-increasing distance dream, it is time to wonder what direction the Lions should take, and the first question is at quarterback.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Should the Detroit Lions put Matthew Stafford on the Injured Reserve?
My answer: No, the Lions should not. There are two sides of the “Put Stafford on IR” camp, one of which I agree with and one I do not. However, as a whole, putting Stafford on the Injured Reserve is a mistake.
The first reason to put him on the IR is his health. If the Lions and Stafford are put in a situation where he needs the time to recuperate, or he is truly unable to play, then I would understand the move. However, I do not expect Stafford to be in that position. His back injury should not be season-ending, and if it is, then the Lions have some serious concerns going forward.
The other reason to end his season would be to implement a tank. I adhere to the belief that tanking is an absurd fantasy that only works in specific cases. The Lions are not one of those cases. Even in the event you try to tank, players are not going to lose on purpose. This is their career. Some of these players will not play on another team again. In a league where you are always on the edge of unemployment, you do not want to advertise yourself as a player willing to quit. Look at the Miami Dolphins — that is a team built to tank, and yet they have rattled off two-straight wins.
Tanking in football is also a brutal move to a team’s fanbase, and for what? To get a high draft pick? For a team like the Dolphins or the Bengals, it makes sense because quarterback is a priority. What would the Lions tank for? Chase Young? An offensive tackle? The Lions will be hard-pressed to earn a top 5 pick, and the damage that it would do to the fans is not worth the risk. Fans spend time and money supporting this team, so why would you watch a team purposefully trying to lose? Even if it is to get better in the future, the Lions have plenty of holes on the roster, and a handful of high draft picks are not guaranteed to solve them.
Putting Stafford on the Injured Reserve throws the team into chaos. Stafford is the heart and soul of the team, and without him on the field, you lose an incredibly important leader on the team. He has been the Lions’ best player. If he is not severely injured, you have to let him play.
Should the Lions put Matthew Stafford on the Injured Reserve?
This poll is closed