The Lions Could Have Been the 2021 Rams

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee (USA TODAY Sports)

The game everyone has circled on their calendars has come for the Motor City. The Detroit Lions are traveling to Southern California to take on Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams. It sounds so strange to say the Lions are playing against Stafford. After 12 years in Detroit, Stafford seems to have rejuvenated his career in LA. Oh yeah, and he’s having a blast in the process.

When’s the last time anyone saw Stafford celebrate this way in Detroit? His stats reflect this, as he’s tossed 16 touchdowns to only four interceptions with 1,838 yards, leading the Rams to a 5-1 record.

As a Stafford supporter, it’s great to see him having success. After being one of the most underappreciated players in the NFL, watching him get some love and have fun at the same time is great. On the other hand, Stafford’s success this year has shown the NFL how close the Lions have been to being a winning team.

We’ve all known it, but the Lions are one of the most dysfunctional organizations in the history of the NFL. For the sake of our sanity, we’re mostly going to be looking at the disorganization and potential of the Lions while Stafford was under center.

Stafford amassed a 74-90-1 record since he was drafted No. 1-overall in 2009. He played with five head coaches, the best of which was Jim Caldwell, who won 36 games and made two playoff appearances. Caldwell wasn’t an all-time coach, but he was better than the rest.

No one else has won over half of their games coaching Detroit since 2009. Matt Patricia somehow made the Lions seem more dysfunctional. Jim Schwartz was ultimately disappointing, and interim head coach Darrell Bevell only won one game. Let’s give Dan Campbell a chance, but he currently hasn’t done much to separate him from the coaches who proceeded him.

Contrary to all the years of failure and disappointment, the 2021 season has shown us how well Stafford can play under a good head coach. He and Sean McVay seem to have even developed a bromance.

McVay loves Stafford; there’s no question about it. He has utilized him to his full potential, something the Lions were never able to do. And it’s hard to overlook that Jared Goff has never won a game without McVay as his head coach.

After looking at what Goff is without McVay and what Stafford is with McVay, it’s evident that Stafford was never the issue.

It’s disappointing that none of the four coaches Stafford had in Detroit came close to unlocking him like McVay has. We have seen so many teams turn their luck around in the past decade. Even the Cleveland Browns have turned around their organization with a good hire. Kevin Stefanski has built one of the best squads in the NFL.

For 12 seasons, Detroit had the foundation of a good roster — the quarterback — and the most they could do with it was 11 wins and a playoff loss in 2014. This is a team that had the potential to be great for years now, even if it never seemed like it.

It only gets more tragic when you realize that the Lions will be playing the Stafford they always had but never utilized. The whole fanbase is going to see what has been sitting under their noses this entire time.

Goff will be looking to pick up his first win without McVay, while Stafford will be looking to beat a team that never unlocked his full potential.

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