Mike Stafford is not progressing as well as I’d hoped. He’s got two seasons under his belt, solid receivers, and a line that’s giving him a little time in the pocket. My scouts say his abilities have shown only marginal improvement. This is bad because I don’t have a high enough draft pick to shop for a new QB. It’s also bad because, as he reminds me in practice, his name is Matt, not Mike.
I pick up a DE, T and LB in free agency. My draft goes T, LB, WR and K in the first four rounds. My picks from last season are developing nicely and I finally have a defense that can rush the QB. My offensive line is better than it’s ever been, but my RB tandem is an aging Rudi Johnson and some 38-year-old rookie from someone’s practice squad.
With Favre and Jake Delhomme out of the league in 2011, it’s time for another QB to take up the mantle of Captain Interception. Unfortunately for me, that person is Matthew Stafford. This season he throws for 4,268 yards (good), 22 TDs (good) but 21 INTs (Favre). “Let’s go over the game tape again, Mike,” I’ll say. “My name’s not Mike, coach,” he’ll whine. “I’m not the coach, I’m the GM,” I whine back. We’re like an old married couple named Irv and Maude Bickerson.
We start 8-3, but lose our left tackle for the rest of the season. Injuries…are a bitch. We finish 11-5 and second in the division. We beat the Matt Ryan-less Atlanta Falcons for the Lions’ first playoff win since 1991. The Eagles wipe us out in the next round of the playoffs only to fall to the Chargers in the Super Bowl. A three-peat for the San Diego Chargers? A bounce of the ball or two, and I bet the 90s Bills would’ve won seven titles in this game. Actually, let’s find out. It takes about 15 seconds to set up a historical 1990 season with the Jim Kelly-led Buffalo Bills. Set it to sim four seasons and…hm, 0 Super Bowls, 0 AFC titles from 1990 to 1993. Never mind.
Back in my 2011 universe, Oakland finishes 8-8 for their first non-losing season since forever. Charlie Frye throws for 23 TDs, 7 INTs and a 104 QB passer rating. Al Davis is a mad genius.
Next, Super Bowl or bust. Part 4, the conclusion.