Here are four words that haven’t found their way into the same sentence very often in recent years: Good news from Detroit.
But it’s true. In the Lions’ preseason game against the Colts, 2009 first overall pick Matthew Stafford and veteran Daunte Culpepper are getting it done. And, as a result, they’re putting head coach Jim Schwartz into a welcome bind.
In the first half of this matinee televised by NFL Network, Culpepper started, completing seven of 12 passes for 67 yards, with a first-quarter touchdown pass to Bryant Johnson from 3 yards out.
Stafford came in to begin the second quarter with the score tied at 7 and, against what appeared to be most of the Colts’ starting unit, directed a nice drive that ended in a field goal.
Included on that drive was a frozen rope completion to Calvin Johnson on third-and-9 that traveled 40 yards and probably never got above 15 feet in the air. Stafford also gave a little glimpse of things to come via two nice hookups with tight end Brandon Pettigrew, the 20th overall pick in this year’s draft.
The drive stalled inside the five when Stafford couldn’t connect with Johnson on a couple of lobs into the end zone. On the first try, the pass was completed, but the timing was off as Johnson came down with both feet out of bounds. The second attempt was nearly hauled in by Johnson on his fingertips but was broken up.
Stafford ran the two-minute drill before the half and got the ball out to around midfield before getting picked on a bomb intended for Bryant Johnson with time running out. Stafford finished the half completing 7 of 10 throws for 76 yards.
Coming off last week’s unimpressive outing against the Browns, Stafford looked much better. Schwartz said he may start Stafford in the preseason finale next Saturday and that he may not name a starter for the team’s opener at New Orleans until the week of the game.
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweets (I love that that’s a verb nobody knew a year ago and now everyone gets) that, unless Stafford face-plants, he’ll be the Week One starter.