Shutdown Corner - NFL

Danks mentioned on the podcast this morning that the best quarterback who currently calls Detroit home could well be Allen Iverson. At first, I chuckled. Then I thought about it and the chuckling stopped.

This could actually be true.

Now, maybe I'm wrong. It could be an absolutely absurd notion. But we're not talking about just any guy off the street here, we're talking about one of the world's finest athletes. And we're not talking about just any team with bad quarterbacks, we're talking about the 0-12 Lions, who the 2-10 Chiefs look at and say, "Thank goodness we don't have those quarterbacks."

Thirty-one NFL teams felt like Daunte Culpepper was not worth a phone call and the veteran's minimum salary. The Lions were the only team desperate enough to give him a ring. And not only that, they named him their starter just days after he signed the contract. No other team wanted him as a third quarterback. The Lions wanted him as their first.

Since then, Culpepper has a sickly 53.6 quarterback rating. Vince Young was better. Brooks Bollinger was better. Ryan Fitzpatrick is better. Tarvaris Jackson was better. Gus Frerotte is way better.

So realistically, what could we expect if Allen Iverson was placed under center for the Lions? Obviously, he'd have no knowledge of the offense, terminology, or how to read an NFL defense. These are hindrances. But those same problems don't stop JaMarcus Russell from going out there every week.

Iverson knows how to play quarterback, though. He played the position in high school and won a state title, and there are those who say he was better at football than basketball.

More importantly than that, though, there are things that great, highly-competitive athletes know and feel that translate to any sport. It's a desire to find an edge; it's the ability to learn on the fly the best way to get something done.

Great athletes have that. You don't get to Allen Iverson's level without being a smart player with amazing instincts.

Obviously, you wouldn't expect a 45-of-60, 380-yard passing performance from Iverson. He's not going to be Joe Montana. But you could put him in the shotgun, tell him to throw only when he sees an open guy, and just let him run around.

You could line up and do some crazy wildcat formation stuff, run some quarterback sweeps ... just let him make things happen.

And yeah, he'd see eight, possibly nine guys in the box. But again, Iverson can throw the football, and if he's going to see those kinds of fronts, he's got the speed and elusiveness to get away from the rush. From there, Calvin Johnson one-on-one against anyone isn't a bad option. Iverson can chuck a 50/50 ball up there as well as Daunte Culpepper, can't he?

I wouldn't argue for Iverson as a starter for any other team. This is a special case. And I wouldn't argue for Allen Iverson as a career NFL quarterback. There's a reason he went in the direction of basketball. He'd be the smallest quarterback in the modern era of the NFL.

But you look at the Lions right now, and at the quarterback position, and they're not getting anything from it. Not only is Culpepper not making big plays, but he's not even making the average plays. He gives you consistent, below-average play with no hope for a major benefit.

Put Iverson back there, though, and he's going to make things happen. He might have some major disasters. But he might also make some mind-blowing plays. At the very least, he'd make it difficult for opponents to prepare.

Certainly, it couldn't hurt the Lions, but that's not saying much. At 0-12, it wouldn't hurt the Lions to take the field in panties and paper party hats. That's not the question we're asking here.

We're asking if Iverson would honestly be the best option at quarterback for the Lions. We're asking if he'd give them a better chance to win than anyone else currently on the quarterback depth chart.

In a major upset, I say yes.

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