It is the kind of problem they waited decades to have, but it also comes with some inherent angst.
The problem is that they have a quarterback who had a great season, and who has the ability to pile great season upon great season for a long time.
There is no prospect, or old veteran who’s a head coach’s favorite from their days on another team, waiting in the wings to take Stafford’s turn.
There are no grumbles from offensive linemen about the quarterback holding the ball too long, or receivers complaining about not getting their share of balls thrown to them.
Good game, bad game, great game, winning, losing – everything related to the Lions’ quarterback position falls on Stafford. When the Monday morning quarterbacks dissect the play of the quarterback on Sunday, they talk about Stafford.
He’s the focal point, which is how it is in any city that has a quarterback who is entrenched as the starter.
Nobody understands that more than Stafford and coach Jim Schwartz.
Stafford has been under scrutiny from fans and media for his performance in the first two games. He overcame a ragged start – three interceptions in the first half qualifies as ragged – in the Lions’ 27-23 win over the Rams in the opener.
Stafford led two 80-yard drives in the fourth quarter to win the game. He wound up passing for 346 yards.
His turnover ratio was better in Sunday night’s 27-19 loss at San Francisco. He had an interception and a TD pass, but the offense wasn’t nearly as explosive as it was the previous week.
Before the team plane landed early Monday morning, the questions had already begun. What’s wrong with Stafford? Slump? Lost his touch?
Our video posted Wednesday on detroitlions.com had the headline: “Should Lions fans be concerned about Stafford’s game?”
My answer: Yes, be concerned about Sunday’s game against the 49ers. But don’t be concerned if Stafford is the right quarterback to play the next game against the Titans or the rest of this season – or seasons after that.
The scrutiny goes with the position. It’s fair game in the world of message boards, Twitter, talk shows and fantasy football. It all sells tickets, sponsorships, TV commercials, jerseys and other NFL-related merchandise.
Nobody understands it better than Stafford.
“Absolutely,” Stafford said Wednesday. “I understand that. People are going to think I’m great if I throw five touchdowns and the worst if I throw five picks.
“I feel terrible if I throw five picks, and I feel pretty good if I throw five touchdowns. It’s understandable. I just don’t pay a whole lot of attention to it.”
The Lions have had quarterbacks who couldn’t handle the scrutiny and outside pressure. Stafford is not one of them. There is no sign that he’ll crumple under the weight of playing quarterback.
“I haven’t seen many guys built like him yet,” said center
“He’s too good for that. He has too many weapons around him, too many guys to pick him up. Start with him. I don’t think he’s going to let himself get rattled.”
The Sabols: NFL Films founder Ed Sabol and his son Steve, who died on Tuesday, took pro football from stadium into living rooms and into the hearts of the fans.
No single technological development – instant replay, high definition, stereo sound – made more of an impact than their imagination and brainpower.
Ed founded NFL Films in 1962. Steve was co-founder and began with the company as a cameraman.
NFL Films was in the vanguard of reality TV. It used tight close-ups, slow motion and wired players for sound. It combined brilliant film productions with music and the staccato narratives of first John Facenda and then Harry Kalas.
The result was the best film work in sports history.
NFL Films produced images that will live forever – Vince Lombardi patrolling the sideline at Green Bay, Jim Brown’s powerful greatness, the balletic maneuvers of Gale Sayers, footballs spinning in slow motion and Dick Butkus bellowing steam in the frigid Chicago air.
Stafford was a fan of NFL Films at an early age, growing up in Dallas.
“My family used to think I was crazy. They’d come home, and I’d just be watching old games. I was born in 1988, and I’d be watching games in the ‘70s and ‘60s.
“I used to love watching that stuff,” he said. “I’m always into the sound effects -- all that stuff where they get players on the field. What that family really did for the game, they brought the inside scoop that a lot of people can’t get by watching the TV copy. They get that, and they’ve given it to the fans.
“I know everybody that plays in the NFL and a lot of fans out there are feeling for that family.”
Replacement refs: They could take a key from what home plate umpire Jerry Meals did in the eighth inning of Tuesday night’s Tigers-As game.
On the first pitch after Miguel Cabrera hit his second homer of the game, As pitcher Jesse Chavez hit Prince Fielder with a pitch.
Meals acted immediately, throwing Chavez out of the game.
Whether you agree with Meals’ decision, he showed more command and decisiveness on one pitch than the NFL’s replacement refs have show in 32 games combined.