Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan symbolizes what Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford could be.

Like Stafford, Ryan was a successful force in college. And, like Stafford, Ryan had high expectations placed upon him -- he immediately delivered for the Falcons. Ryan's rating has increased each season (except in 2009), and he's thrown for at least 4,000 yards for the second straight year.

And for good measure, Ryan -- who's led Atlanta to the playoffs thrice (2008, 2010, 2011) -- has tossed at least 27 touchdown passes the past three seasons.

The Falcons compete for division titles and Super Bowl-berths. They should have little trouble Saturday with Stafford and the Lions at Ford Field.

Ryan has shown that he can take care of opponents on a consistent basis, whereas Stafford appears to have been a flash in the pan -- he's nowhere near the same quarterback this year as he was in 2011, the lone season he wasn't injured. He threw 41 touchdowns and had 16 interceptions. This year, he's at a paltry 17 touchdowns with 15 picks.

Stafford has perhaps the best receiver in the league in Calvin Johnson, a once-a-generation type of athlete. Ryan has Tony Gonzalez, one of the greatest tight ends, and Julio Jones, one of the NFL's elite young stars.

The level of talent is comparable when gauging offensive weapons. One team knows how to properly utilize its personnel, while the other -- that being Detroit for those who were curious -- stumbles, fumbles and bumbles while failing with what could be one of the league's top quarterbacks in Stafford.

While one flourishes, the other sits stagnant. Ryan will have a Super Bowl ring before Stafford sniffs an NFC title game. Unless changes are made in Detroit, Stafford will be just another great athlete to have the misfortune of giving his best years to the Lions.

Bringing in someone to nurture Stafford during these important years is a must for Detroit -- special attention directed toward grooming The Franchise has to be a priority. The coaching staff has to realize the type of talent that Detroit has -- but it has to learn how to control it and not let a few bad apples send another promising season into a perilous spiral.

Another Matt Ryan? Or another... what's his name? Joey?! Andre?! Rodney?! Yeah, that guy.

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