Allen Park — On the day Jim Caldwell was fired by the Detroit Lions last January, quarterback Matthew Stafford offered a ringing endorsement for offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter to be retained by Caldwell’s replacement.
“Jim Bob and I have a great relationship and ever since he’s had the opportunity to take the reins, this offense has moved in the right direction in my opinion,” Stafford said one year ago. “I feel like I’m playing some of the best football of my career, so I would love to have the opportunity to keep working with him. He’s been good for us and good for me.”
Asked how’d he respond to Matt Patricia, if the coach asked his opinion on Cooter, Stafford was short.
“He doesn’t ask me,” he said Thursday.
Pushed to clarify whether he’d like Cooter back in 2019, Stafford’s answer focused more on the past than a possible future with the pairing.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with Jim Bob,” Stafford said. “I think he’s a smart coach and I’ve had a lot of success under him. We’ve scored a bunch of points and done a lot of really good things under him.”
Stafford is coming off the best three-year stretch of his career, from an efficiency standpoint. Under Cooter, the quarterback’s completion percentage has shot up, while the mistakes have been down.
But there’s been some significant regression in 2018, with Stafford on pace to finish with fewer than 4,000 passing yards for the first time in his career when he’s played a full season, in addition to a less-than-desirable 19-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
When asked who was to blame for his and the offense’s struggles, Stafford pointed his finger at the players.
“I mean, we’re the guys that are out there throwing the ball, catching the ball, running it, blocking it and all of that. So, at the of the day, as players, we have to do a better job,” Stafford said.
Stafford was also passive about his desire to have input on the team’s offseason.
“Obviously, I’ve been with this team for a long time, I’ve seen a lot of people come in and out,” he said. “I probably have some unique perspectives on some things, but at the same time, those guys jobs are solely here to do those kinds of things, and my job is to score touchdowns and get our offense in the end zone. So, that’s what I’ll focus on.”
Stafford’s future with the franchise has also been a topic of discussion this season, and interest in the team potentially dealing the veteran quarterback this offseason have been renewed after multiple anonymous NFL executives predicted the Lions would seriously explore the possibility.
Stafford claims he rarely thinks about the possibility of playing somewhere else and reiterated his desire to finish his career in Detroit.
“I think there’s something special about a guy getting the chance to play his entire career in one place,” Stafford said. “Not many guys get to do that these days. I would love to be one of those guys.”