The NFL is saving the best for last during this opening weekend of playoff games. No Detroit Lions for the fifth straight year? That’s OK. We have Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford to cheer and jeer during the Monday Night finale as the Rams tangle with the Arizona Cardinals at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
Stafford drew praise for most Rams victories. He also drew scorn for every defeat.
The great Stafford divide plays out every weekend. Television must know this because while most of the nation gets to watch America’s team – the Dallas Cowboys – Detroiters mostly get Stafford. He’s turned this into a Jekyll and Hyde fan base.
We in Detroit root for Stafford because he’s a good guy.
It wasn’t his fault that the Lions failed to win a playoff game during his 12 seasons here. He all but won the 2014 playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys when those dastardly refs overturned a pass interference call that would have kept a winning drive rolling late in the game.
We root for Stafford to fail because the better he does, the worse draft pick the Lions get. And if this bum is so good, why did he fail to win a playoff game in 12 years of trying in Detroit. We’d hate to see him win playoff games elsewhere after leaving Detroit.
“His body of work speaks to itself,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said last week. “I don’t think you can confine it to, he hasn’t won a playoff game. I don’t want to get in trouble, but the Dallas game he played when he was in Detroit, he probably won that, and that was out of his control, wasn’t it?”
Have you noticed a pattern here? Everybody who coaches Stafford treats him with kid gloves. It’s like you cannot insult the guy.
“I almost think he gets short-sighted because he’s been such a great player for so long,” McVay said. “And it’s almost like you’re going to want to try and nitpick.”
Is pointing out eight turnovers in three games nitpicking? If former Rams quarterback Jared Goff did the same, McVay would be blasting him up and down Rodeo Drive. With Stafford we are nitpicking.
I do not root for history. However, I’d rather see the Rams win their opening-round game against the Cardinals. It would show our sometimes lame fan base that the reasons the Lions did not win playoff games had more to do with the team than the quarterback.
It should not be surprising that Stafford has created a Jekyll and Hyde fan base in Detroit. Doesn’t that describe Stafford as a player? He is money in the two-minute drill until it really counts, like in the regular season finale’ against the San Francisco 49ers.
This season he ranked third in passing yards (4,886), second in touchdown passes (41) and fifth in passing rating (102.9). But he also tied for first with the most interceptions (17).
You can love and loathe him on the same drive.
Enjoy the Monday Night game against the Cardinals.
You will cheer and jeer at the man. You will be happy or sad depending on the outcome. Stafford is both a bum and a hero in Detroit.
Follow Foster on Twitter at TerryFosterDet.