The Detroit Lions are facing rumors of a big change, with rumblings that the team could bench Matthew Stafford and hand the ball to Dan Orlovsky with the hopes of turning around what could already be a wasted season.
The Lions entered the season with high hopes, including many picking them as a playoff contender in the NFC, but they have failed in spectacular fashion. The low point may have come Sunday morning, when the team was blown out by the Kansas City Chiefs in London, losing by a score of 45-10 to fall to 1-7 on the season.
The Lions were gashed by the Chiefs on the ground, giving up rushing touchdowns to De’Anthony Thomas, Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware, and even one to quarterback Alex Smith. But the Lions also failed to move the ball on offense, with the first game under new offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter failing to give the team a spark.
In the game, Stafford threw for 217 yards, with two interceptions and a touchdown in what was essentially garbage time. Stafford was also sacked six times.
“Not a good outing, obviously. An understatement,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said (via ESPN.com). “We ran the ball decently early on, but we reached the point where we wouldn’t be able to regain lost ground quickly enough to keep running.”
Matthew Stafford now with 11 interceptions. That leads the NFL. pic.twitter.com/g4suLYIPPC
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) November 1, 2015
Stafford was already benched once this year, and many expected him to come out this week in the second half, though the Lions continued to roll with him during the blowout. But there are rumors that the Detroit Lions could use the bye week to make a change, going with Dan Orlovsky in the hopes of giving the offense a spark.
You know who #Lions Matt Stafford looks like today? David Carr. Blame the line, blame Stafford, doesn’t matter. He’s getting crushed.
— Shane Richardson (@ShaneNFL) November 1, 2015
After the game, Stafford said it was a problem of poor execution, not of a poor game plan.
“Jim Bob called a good game,” Stafford said, “but we just failed to execute.”
But despite the team’s poor play and the threats to bench Matthew Stafford, there are many who believe the team would never part ways with their franchise quarterback. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew has already said in no uncertain terms that the team has no plans to ship off talent at the trade deadline.
Mayhew also said it was “comical” to suggest moving on from Stafford, who he said has “Hall of Fame potential.”
“I mean this guy is a phenomenal talent,” Mayhew said, via the Detroit Free Press. “You can go look at his production over the course of his career in some tough situations, having missed most of the first two seasons of his career. And his numbers are up there with the top guys who have ever played the game.”
Mayhew: “Comical” to suggest parting ways with Matthew Stafford in 2016 https://t.co/OrOhQuR5WF
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 30, 2015
It also doesn’t make financial sense for the team to ship Stafford off, Pro Football Talk noted. He is signed through 2017, and partying with him now would give the team a huge cap hit next season.
But that would not stop the Lions from benching Stafford in the short term, seeing if Orlovsky has what it takes to spark the team to some victories. And with the bye week coming up, it could be the perfect time for the Lions to make adjustments and have a chance to settle into Cooter’s new system.
Of course, those rumors could still have little grounding, and it’s likely that the Detroit Lions stick with Matthew Stafford. But the mere fact that there are rumblings about the Lions benching their franchise quarterback speaks volumes to the disarray the team is facing.
[Picture by Leon Halip / Getty Images]