Who is the best quarterback position in the Detroit Lions?

Anyone reading my editorials knows that I love the Detroit Lions. So, with free agency being a bit slow, I thought about compiling a list of my all-time Lions’ team.

To have some fun with it, why not use a video game as the parameter for this team? The obvious choice would be Electronic Arts’ “Madden” NFL franchise, which I do buy every year. But I decided to go another route.

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When it comes to video games, there is my one and only true love: “Tecmo Super Bowl.” Technically, my favorite version of this game was the 1995 Super Nintendo version: “Tecmo Super Bowl III: The Final Edition.” However, 1991’s “Tecmo Super Bowl” for the first Nintendo served as the building block for all versions to come, and will serve as the basis of this team.

‘Tecmo’ was the perfect combination of arcade style game play and scoring. It was an addictive game, especially in the 1991 version, which included all 28 NFL teams and complete schedules. The previous version, 1989’s “Tecmo Bowl,” had just a dozen teams and no NFL team license (plus, Detroit did not make the cut of 12 teams).

ROSTER RULES

The rules for this all-time Detroit Lions roster follow the 1991 ‘Tecmo’ game, and are as follows:

  • Detroit players from 1991 through the present (last 27 seasons)

  • Offense consists of 17 selections

  • 11 starters (QB, RB, 3 WR, TE, 5 OL)

  • 6 substitutes (QB, 3 RB, WR, TE)

  • At least 1 Substitute must include punt and kickoff returner

  • Defense consists of 11 selections

  • 3 defensive lineman

  • 4 linebackers

  • 4 defensive backs

So, like any good roster, we begin at the top: the quarterbacks. On ‘Tecmo,’ there is just one starter and one backup. And for good measure, I added an honorable mention. When you see who it is, you will understand why. But, for now, there is only one unquestioned starter.

STARTER: MATTHEW STAFFORD

Quarterback Matthew Stafford has accumulated every major statistical record for the Detroit Lions. Stafford is the franchise leader in each of these categories:

  • Quarterback Wins – 60

  • Pass Completions – 3,005

  • Pass Attempts – 4,850

  • Pass Yards – 34,749

  • Pass Touchdowns – 216

Stafford is clearly the starter. He is a statistical beast, especially when it comes to Detroit Lions history. However, Stafford’s backup highlights his one shortcoming as a quarterback: no division titles and no playoff wins.

BACKUP: ERIK KRAMER

Quarterback Erik Kramer is not an obvious choice. Unlike Stafford, Kramer did not make his mark in terms of statistics. His resume is more about the accolades that he accumulated in Detroit:

  • 1991 NFC Central Champions

  • 1991 Divisional playoff win (against the Dallas Cowboys)

  • 1993 NFC Central Champions

  • 10-5 regular season record: (1991) 6-2, (1992) 1-2, (1993) 3-1

  • 1-2 postseason record: (1991) 1-1, (1993) 0-1

To be fair, Kramer only played three seasons in Detroit, and only accumulated about one year’s worth of starts. However, this was mostly due to head coach Wayne Fontes‘ quarterback carousel, which included quarterbacks Rodney Peete and Andre Ware.

So, it is hard to say that he was a huge impact as a Detroit quarterback because he never really got a chance. However, his overall record showed he was effective, and he has the only postseason victory for the franchise in the past 60 plus years.

HONORABLE MENTION: SCOTT MITCHELL

Quarterback Scott Mitchell also gained a lot of stats in his time in Detroit. In those same statistical categories as Stafford, he ranks pretty high for the franchise:

  • Quarterback Wins – 27 (ranked fifth)

  • Pass Completions – 1,049 (ranked third)

  • Pass Attempts – 1,850 (ranked third)

  • Pass Yards – 12,647 (ranked third)

  • Pass Touchdowns – 79 (ranked fourth)

Mitchell certainly is not good enough to leap past the first two guys. But he is the only other quarterback worth a mention since 1991.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Statistical accomplishments are the obvious similarity between Mitchell and Stafford. When discovering this similarity, it actually causes some concern because they have another thing in common: no division titles and no playoff wins.

Stafford’s “Mitchell-esque” statistics now need to add some of that Erik Kramer resume. If Stafford can do that, this all-time roster will be special.

Of course, two divisional titles and one playoff win would be welcomed at this point. But if Stafford can bring a Super Bowl title to Detroit, he will cement himself as the very best Detroit Lion of all-time, any era, no video game rules required.

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