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Despite Johnson non-catch and Stafford’s injury, Lions can still be relevant in 2010

Posted By Mike Feld On Sep 15 2010 @ 9:50 pm In Detroit Lions | 3 Comments

The Monday Morning Quarterback was honorary mayor in Detroit on Monday.

The Lions had accomplished a rare feat on Sunday. The team went into Solider Field and stuck with the Chicago Bears, nearly pulling off a win. Despite obvious questions with the secondary and running game, the team as a whole showed off signs of major improvement.

But there was no talk about that. There was hardly a mention of second-year quarterback Matthew Stafford, whether it was his play (11-of-15, 85 yards) or the injury to his throwing shoulder (his third significant career health setback). In fact, the inability of veteran left tackle Jeff Backus to protect Stafford was ignored, too.

The talk was all on Calvin Johnson and the infamous non-catch. But while fans fumed, Lions coach Jim Schwartz elected to take the high road. He accepted the rule as a rule and tried to move on.

Many were upset at Schwartz for not blasting the league, its officials and its rules committee. But Schwartz’s mind was other places; he was thinking about something more important.

On Sunday, it’s the Shaun Hill show.

Stafford, a former No. 1 overall pick, will be out of the equation for at least one week. The team is being quiet on how long Stafford will be out, but for now Hill is the guy.

While many fans don’t have faith in Hill, his stats don’t lie. He’s 10-6 as a starter with a career quarterback rating slightly about 88. The guy struggled to prove himself as a starter with the 49ers, but the Lions were impressed. Detroit gave him a contract extension before the season started.

As for Schwartz, he realizes that there are 15 more games on the schedule. Looking behind instead of ahead can be detrimental to the team. And for this team, there’s a lot still at stake.

Despite the loss, the Lions have reason for positive thoughts. The defensive line was stellar. The offense showed signs of brilliance in the first half and in the two-minute drill. And although health is a concern, the Philadelphia Eagles—the Lions’ opponent on Sunday—will also deal with serious health issues.

Don’t count the Lions out just yet. Although calling the team a playoff contender is quite a stretch, Detroit’s three division rivals—Chicago, Minnesota and Green Bay—all showed legitimate weaknesses in the opening week.

Lions fans left their living rooms and watering holes frustrated and angry on Sunday. But fans can’t forget the bigger picture here. There’s 15 games left, and nothing has been determined so far. If anything else, this should still pan out to be an exciting season.

And while the Lions are better with Stafford, don’t sleep on Hill yet. He was the guy that led the final drive and threw the Johnson pass, after all.

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