Lions coach Rod Marinelli said he hasn't decided on a starting quarterback next week against Carolina, but I'd be surprised if it's not Daunte Culpepper. The Lions didn't bring Culpepper in to be a backup and they didn't start him against Jacksonville five days after he signed only to switch to a quarterback they didn't think was ready a week ago.
Culpepper, who wore a wristband full of plays on each arm, was 5-of-10 passing for 104 yards in Sunday's 38-14 loss to Jacksonville. He showed several signs of rust an interception on his second pass and an underthrown deep ball to Calvin Johnson that should have been a touchdown but really, after almost a year out of football, it's not fair to expect more.
Drew Stanton played two goal-line snaps early as was the plan the Lions didn't bother to cram that part of the offense into Culpepper's playbook last week; They said you've been around here long enough, you know them, so you're going to go in if we get to the 5, Stanton said and the entire fourth quarter. He finished 6-of-8 for 94 yards, was sacked five times and led Detroit on an 11-play, 88-yard touchdown drive. His best throw, a second would-be scoring pass, glanced off Shaun McDonald's hands near the goal line.
It was fun, Stanton said of his NFL debut. Obviously the circumstances, but you just got to try and get in and do the best you can when you get an opportunity.
Culpepper, too, said he was grateful for the opportunity to be playing again. He announced his retirement last month when no one offered him a chance to compete for a starting job, something that appears to be his in Detroit.
I went out there and gave my best shot today, Culpepper said. I can tell you that I will get better and this team will get better.
- Most of the attention Sunday was on Culpepper and Stanton, but the Lions' biggest problem was their defense. After taking a 7-3 lead late in the first quarter, Detroit allowed five consecutive touchdown drives of at least seven plays and 54 yards. Maurice Jones-Drew scored three second-quarter TDs half his season total entering Sunday and the Lions held the ball for a total of three plays and 1 minute, 26 seconds in the third quarter. They had minus-6 yards of offense in the period.
- On the good-news front, the Lions finally handed their starting running-back job back to rookie Kevin Smith. Smith ran for a career-high 96 yards on 23 carries and scored on a 1-yard run. It was a wise decision. He's a better back with more upside than Rudi Johnson.
- Smith wasn't too pleased with how the Lions regressed after playing four straight close games. We didnt go forward, he said. These last four or five games we've been losing at the end, a couple bad calls, but we've been playing, we've been playing with those teams. Behind our backs they can say, The Lions arent good. The Lions suck. But on that field they were going through it. They were feeling us. Jacksonville wasnt feeling us. They were out there cracking jokes, having fun. If youre a player and a competitor and you got love for this game, you should feel sick like me. I feel sick to my stomach. All this (stuff) sickens me.
- One more thought from the very quotable Smith: We need to start taking responsibility. And the guys who consider themselves playmakers and all that, they need to make plays. Thats how I feel. Thats what Im saying. They need to make plays. We need to make plays a team. It was not the coaches. Were the ones that go out there and put on our cleats. Theres no reason we take losses like this. Its embarrassing. Its disgusting.
- Safety Kalvin Pearson, on the possibility he could draw another $7,500 fine for the personal foul he drew late in Sunday's third quarter for a hit on Jacksonville receiver Reggie Williams: They probably might double it this time. I don't know what to say. I guess they want me to play two-hand touch maybe. Asked how officials explained the penalty, Pearson, who was fined for a horse-collar tackle last week against Chicago, said, One dude said I threw the forearm and one dude said I (went) helmet-to-helmet, so I don't know. I'll know by Thursday or Friday when I get the Fed Ex.
- We'll find out more on the injury front Monday, but things don't look good for defensive ends Dewayne White and Jared DeVries. White, the Lions' top pass rusher, left on the first play of Jacksonville's second drive with a calf injury. He pulled up lame as he turned the corner to pressure David Garrard. DeVries broke his hand later in the game and Marinelli said he might require surgery.