So if the Lions decide not to put rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford on the field to start the 2009 season, opting instead to give veteran Daunte Culpepper the first crack at the position this year, what happens if Culpepper plays well?
More importantly, what happens if the team plays well?
Let’s take it a step farther. What if the Lions under Culpepper become the 2009 equivalent of the 2008 Dolphins, making the playoffs with Culpepper under center?
At a minimum, this would delay Stafford’s progress, since it would likely keep him off the field for most if not all of the 2009 season. So he’d be less prepared come 2010.
But then the question would be whether the Lions would cut the cord on Culpepper — or whether they’d continue to roll with the man who’s well known for “getting his roll on” (which has nothing to do with applying deodorant).
Some describe the potential situation in Motown as a Drew Brees/Philip Rivers scenario, which is accurate for now. The current thinking is that, eventually, Culpepper will be gone.
But it could become a Derek Anderson/Brady Quinn conundrum if the Lions accomplish that which they haven’t since Barry Sanders retired a decade ago.
If the Lions shock the NFL this season, would the Lions re-sign Culpepper and keep him as the starter? Or would they thrust Stafford into the lineup next season under the weight of leading a team that someone else took to the playoffs?
Though, on the surface, it’s a good problem to have, the long-term consequences could be maddening for a Lions franchise that needs its supposed franchise quarterback to first become the starting quarterback.
That might not happen for a while if Culpepper, with a full offseason in a system run by the same offensive coordinator who took Daunte to a passer rating in excess of 110 points in 2004 (Scott Linehan), has a full-blown Kerry Collins-style career rebirth.