Sharp: QB Stafford, Lions' system extremely flawed
Instead of "fixing" Matthew Stafford, the objective now for the remainder of the 2015 season is salvaging pieces of the wounded, weary Lions' quarterback. The final 11 games are a recovery mission. Is there anything that surfaces amid the inevitable debris spray of a calamitous season that justifies bringing Stafford back in 2016?
The Lions have coddled him for more than seven years, surrounding him with shiny baubles and reassuring him that his star was especially bright. But instead of The Chosen One, Stafford has merely become the one the Lions chose. Not exactly a good sign, considering this remains an organization notorious for turning gold into pewter with a single touch.
Stafford insisted Wednesday that all's good with his relationship with coach Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. He met with Caldwell twice Monday — at the coach's insistence — following Stafford's benching in the third quarter Sunday against Arizona.
"I'm moving on," he said. "That's all I can do."
But despite the verbal niceties, there remains a simmering disconnect between Stafford and the staff. Is it a matter having the right quarterback or the right scheme?
But making this quandary so deliciously Lions-like is that there's no overwhelmingly clear correct answer. There's no definitive option that leaves you hitting your forehead in amazement because it's so obvious. Both the quarterback and the system are extremely flawed.
Everyone is exhausted from the recitation of Stafford's statistics. Who cares how many times he has thrown for more than 4,000 yards? How many big road regular-season wins were included in those numbers? How many playoff victories were included? And what does it say about a coaching philosophy that places a greater emphasis on fitting talent to a scheme as opposed to fitting a scheme to the talent?
This is comparable to choosing sides between two ugly finalists in a beauty contest.
"I don't pay attention too much to what fans and media think," Stafford said Wednesday. "I'm worried about the guys in this locker room and the coaching staff and the guys that wear blue and silver for a living. Those are the guys that matter to me."
Wednesday became yet another reminder of the incongruity that is what's called "Lions Luck."
Even when they do the right thing, it comes out wrong.
Case No. 256 — DeAndre Levy.
The Lions smartly signed the outside linebacker to a contract extension worthy of a Pro Bowl player. There was no drama. No mind games. The Lions were uncharacteristically proactive.
And then Levy injured his hip. He made his season debut last week against the Cardinals and tweaked the injury. Caldwell announced Wednesday that Levy will shortly undergo surgery, a decision that not only tosses into the question Levy's availability for this season but whether or not there could be lingering long-range effects.
That's just the way the Lions roll.
Caldwell did the right thing benching Stafford. It sent a message, whether or not Stafford wanted to hear it. Or whether or not Lions ownership and the front office wanted to hear it.
"You know what I said. You know what I did. You know how it turned out," the coach said Wednesday. "Let's look forward rather than go back. You can write what you want, or talk about what you want. But I'm not going to go back and keep re-hashing that all of that all over again."
And Stafford also is showing signs of fatigue fighting a battle of wills in which nobody's going to win.
"I'm kind of tired talking about what guys have to say after games," Stafford said. "If we win, we can say whatever the hell we want to. Winning takes care of a lot of things."
But there remains a growing perception of disharmony within this team. And while players adamantly had their quarterback and coaches' backs Wednesday, it's unlikely that support will continue should the losses mount and the offense remains grossly unproductive.
Only the Lions can produce a conflict in which the debate for pressing forward is determining the lesser of two disasters.
Contact Drew Sharp: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @drewsharp.