Christmas is a holiday of recipes: gingerbread recipes and casserole recipes, stuffing made three different ways, Grandma’s ancient instructions for cooking ham or prime rib. There are even debates about whether to follow the recipe on the back of the can of cream of mushroom soup, or the one on the back of the can of those crispy onion things.
Christmas is also when Lions fans call for their Fan Favorites—and there’s a recipe for those, too:
1 6th- or 7th-round draft pick (you may substitute an undrafted free agent)
1 Memorable name, or nickname
2 decent plays in training camp
Take rookie with memorable name; watch him in training camp. Once rookie has made a big tackle, blanketed the team’s star wideout for a play, or scored a long touchdown, begin cries of “He just made the team!” When rookie makes a similar play in a preseason game, he may be safely pronounced “better than” the starter at his position. If rookie actually makes the team, print jerseys and cheer immediately. Serves sixty thousand.
What’s interesting about Drew Stanton is that he doesn’t follow this recipe. He’s a second-round draft pick—a cursed Millen second-rounder, no less! He’s been injured early and often. On a team that’s gone through quarterbacks like the All-You-Can-Eat section’s gone through bratwurst, Stanton’s never merited a chance. Yet, Lions fans have spent the last two weeks calling for him to play. Why?
The cynical will point to his alma mater, Michigan State. But it’s not just Spartan fans who’ve been banging the gong on Daunte’s tired act. Drew’s become an icon of the Millen era: even when Millen drafted a true talent, he or his coaches put him in a position to fail. If Drew succeeds, it’ll mean the reclamation of a young career—and a second-round draft pick.
Drew’s never gotten a real chance to prove himself. He’s seen some preseason action, and done well. He’s finished out some regular-season blowout losses, and done poorly. But yesterday, Jim Schwartz announced that Drew Stanton will start this week, and get all the first-team reps in practice. This is the chance he’s never had, to prepare as the starter, practice with the ones, and start.
Judging by what little we have seen of Drew, I don’t anticipate a great day against the 49ers. They have an aggressive defense, led by Patrick Willis, and called by two former linebackers: head coach Mike Singletary, and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.
Still, the Lions showed last Sunday that they like Drew, they play hard for Drew, and they might even play better for Drew. Schwartz has given Drew Stanton a Christmas present—let’s hope he re-gifts it to us.