Matt Stafford: Leadership Abilities Questioned By Several Georgia Bulldogs

Quarterback Matt Stafford was recently referred to directly, and indirectly, by a number of current Georgia Bulldog players when it came to the idea of team leadership, unity, drive, and determination. Matt Stafford’s quarterbacking skills were never called into question, but last year’s Georgia Bulldogs were a big disappointment and it seems a lot of fingers are being pointed at last year’s seniors, and the fact that there was too much focus on superstars going to the NFL rather than bringing a team together to win an SEC championship, and possibly a national championship. Matt Stafford says he’s ready to take on a leadership role in rebuilding the Detroit Lions, but we better just wait one minute before we delegate the task of Lion Savior to Stafford.

In a recent post about Matt Stafford, they referred to a recent quote by Matt Stafford where Stafford said:

“I’m being completely honest, and it has nothing to do with money-I would love to go to Detroit,” Stafford said in the Sports Illustrated story. “My friends say, ‘C’mon, gimme a break.’ But I’m a competitive guy. The Lions have passionate fans, a great stadium, and I’d be throwing to the biggest freak (Calvin Johnson), with the most talent, of any receiver in the NFL.”

Matt Stafford Getting Sacked By Florida

But several of Matt Stafford’s former teamates have already said that this year’s team has a much different feel than last year’s, and that the leadership, the unity, the focus, and the determination to succeed already surpass what it had been. Even one of the incoming freshman quarterbacks, Zach Mettenberger, who spent a tremendous amount of time with last year’s team and was reportedly on campus at least 25 times last year, said that this year’s locker room has a whole different feel than last year’s. He was quoted in a recent Bulldog Blog as saying:

“Last year I was around a lot, and the leadership wasn’t too great last year. I’ve been here three weeks and I can already tell that the leadership and the seniors, they want to win a championship again. They want an SEC championship. They want a spot to play for the national title. So far, the leadership has been outstanding in my opinion.”

On top of that, linebacker Darryl Gamble was quoted as saying:

“We’re just trying to get more guys to buy in and be more vocal, to be a leader and not just talk about it and not do anything on the field. Just like a lot of stuff we were going through last year was a lack of leadership and stuff. They’re just trying to build that up now so around season time we’ll be set.”

Tight end Aron White of the Georgia Bulldogs was quoted in a recent story about how the team is more focused on being a team and working together now that the superstars are gone:

“There’s a lot more of a team mentality around right now,” he said. “We’re not focused on he’s a star and we’ve got to go to him. We’re more focused on everybody’s got to work together and pull their own weight.”

The list goes on and on. I could quote most of the guys on the Georgia Bulldogs from one source or another, but they are all saying the same thing – this year’s team has better leadership, drive, and unity. You can’t possibly say that Matt Stafford was not to blame, nor can you say he was totally to blame. But you can see by the nice little gut that Stafford carried around through most of his career at Georgia, the disappointing results the team got last year, and the fact that everybody is much happier with the leadership, unity, and motivation in the locker room this year as compared to last, that Stafford was not doing the job he should have been doing – and that’s leading the Georgia Bulldogs to be the best team they could be by speaking as a leader and acting as a leader.

But Stafford says he’s ready to take on a task that many before him have tried and failed – to lead the Detroit Lions out of a forty year slump and make them a winning team in the NFL. Well, he took the helm of a preseason #1 ranked Bulldog team in 2008 with as much talent as any in all of college football and lead them to a disappointing season. And now that he’s gone, the team feels like they are ready to perform up to their potential and get past the disappointments of last year. So you’re telling me this same man can take a complete disaster like the Detroit Lions and make them champions? I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but I am saying that Stafford will have to do things differently than he has in the past if that’s what he wants to accomplish.

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4 comments to Matt Stafford: Leadership Abilities Questioned By Several Georgia Bulldogs

  • grid_Fe

    Where were Darryl Gamble and Aron White when this supposed lack of leadership was taking place? If a player saw that there was a lack of leadership on the team why didn’t he step up and take the role? It’s easy to blame the shortcoming of an entire team on one or two players that are not there anymore. We’ll see what this year’s Bulldog team is made of when they don’t have a couple of “superstars” to bail them out ala Kentucky or Michigan State. They better step up and take responsability for a lack of leadership if the team falls in their face instead of blaming others for their failures.

  • Brett

    I’ll agree that it is easy to blame those that are not there anymore for the shortcomings of a team. But they were the superstars on the team! Who else would take the blame for a lack of leadership and the underperformance of a team if not the superstar quarterback and superstar tailback? Matt Stafford is expected to be drafted highest amongst quarterbacks in the NFL draft and possibly even number one overall. Moreno and Stafford were in charge of the team – they were the leaders – and nobody else was in a position to take that from them – it has to be earned – and they had earned it.

    I would also write this off as one or two guys complaining, but it was a pile of guys complaining! I mean tons of them! Offense and defense. Every grade level – multiple positions. Even the incoming freshman quarterback Zach Mettenberger – who was around a lot last year in the locker room with the team even said it!

    So it seems to me that too many guys on the team agreed that last year there was a lack of leadership, a lack of accountability, and a lack of unity on the team. You absolutely must look to your star upper classmen to lead the team – especially your quarterback – and they apparantely failed to do so. The team underperformed in a big way – there’s no denying it.

    I’ve got nothing against Stafford and Moreno as players – their talents speak for themselves – but their team spoke for them as leaders and the overall consensus was not good.

  • grid_Fe

    Yes, they were the superstars and they held up their end of the bargain. A twenty year old junior and a sophomore, Stafford and Moreno made up for 88% of the offense. An offense that bailed the defense time and time again. And they did that with freshmen and sophomores on the offensive line. Some players say that leadership was missing, but it seems to me that because Moreno and Stafford got most of the attention that they were supposed to bail them out. It seems to me that it was the rest of the team that came up short and they find it easy to blame it on a supposed lack of leadership. There’s only so much an RB and QB can do no matter how good they are.

    And where were the seniors when all of this was taking place? Massaquoi, Southerland, Chandler, Ellerbe, Owens?

    By the way, that team did not underperform. With 19 season ending injuries that team performed about on par on what they should have performed. A 10-3 season with that many injuries, greenhorns on the O-line and a defense that was giving up 45+ a game is a good season.

    • Brett

      Outstanding points grid-Fe – all of them were outstanding points.

      The injuries were decimating – no question – and everyone agrees that the offensive line was a tragedy. And 45 points per game by the defense – another tragedy – no question.

      You mentioned the seniors – another great point, because in fact the seniors were specifically mentioned by several of the underclassmen that were complaining about the lack of drive, determination, unity, accountability, and leadership. So a great question, indeed – where were the seniors???

      I’ll throw this point out there, though – Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Jordan Shipley, and Colt McCoy are just four examples of guys that absolutely would have been drafted in this year’s NFL draft if they had declared for it. No question. Yet every one of them returned. Where is the dedication to the team in Georgia? Where were the seniors last year? Why weren’t they making sure that every last man was dedicated to Georgia football? Why aren’t Stafford and Moreno returning? Why are the superstar underclassmen not returning to Georgia to bring their team and their fans a shot at the national championship? It turns out they may have a shot at it without those two – and I’d love to see something like that happen! But why aren’t they returning?

      I know the arguement about getting injured and missing your shot at the NFL – and that’s not good enough. Their time would have come in the NFL – it’s almost a certainty. The University of Georgia made a commitment to those players and the fans were there to back them every step of the way. And although they performed on the field, their hearts were clearly not with the University of Georgia and the Bulldog Nation. Neither were the hearts of many of the seniors. So the question is, why?

      Somebody is to blame for the lack of unity and dedication to the Bulldog’s program. Is it the seniors from 2008? Is it the superstar players in 2008 – namely Stafford and Moreno? Was it Mark Richt? Why don’t star players want to return to a team with a shot at a national championship? Why weren’t seniors motivated – and why weren’t they motivating others? Where is the sense of history, pride, and commitment to the Bulldog’s program? Clearly the superstars were out for themselves, and the seniors failed to step up and lead. Is this all a symptom of a coaching staff who isn’t instilling the right attitude and getting the proper commitment from it’s players? Is the coaching staff failing to motivate and inspire?

      Hopefully for the Bulldog faithful these questions will be answered, the injuries will heal, the underclassmen will step up, and the seniors will lead in 2009. If so, you just may find the Bulldogs playing in the biggest bowl game of the 2009-2010 season – the only one that really matters.

      Excellent points grid_Fe one and all. It’s people like you that make me love talking sports!

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