DETROIT – The vast majority of Detroit Lions fans probably still think fondly of Matthew Stafford, even though he’s no longer playing for their favorite team.
Not only was Stafford the starting quarterback here for 12 years, he was the face of the franchise, and often the only reason to watch an otherwise hapless organization.
Stafford was sacked 385 times as a member of the Lions and probably knocked down about 1,000 more. Yet still, he almost always got up and continued playing, regardless of injuries or how meaningless the games.
All in all, he was an excellent representative of Detroit on and off the football field.
But that still doesn’t mean you should root for him right now.
Stafford’s Los Angeles Rams will host the Arizona Cardinals at 8:15 p.m. Monday in the first round of the NFL playoffs. Since he never won a postseason game (0-3) with the Lions, many people are rooting for Stafford to finally get over the hump.
But Lions fans should be actively rooting against the Rams, just as they should have been all season and as they should next year. It’s not some petty grudge against Stafford -- the Rams’ success is directly linked to one of the Lions’ most valuable offseason assets.
When Detroit traded Stafford to the Rams, it received two first-round picks in return. The first of those picks will be made this year, and the second will come in 2023.
If the Rams lose to the Cardinals on Monday night, the Lions will receive the No. 23 overall pick in the draft. If the Rams win, that pick will be No. 26 at best, even if they lose the following week.
The Lions would obviously like to pick as early in the first round as possible -- that’s a no-brainer.
For example: One of the team’s greatest needs is wide receiver, and there are a half-dozen receivers projected to be drafted in the first round. Picking a few spots earlier could be the difference between the Lions getting the receiver they really like and settling for someone further down the draft board.
Brad Holmes had an excellent first offseason as Lions general manager. Picking even earlier with his second first-round pick would put him on a better track to build on that momentum.