August 8, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Lions QB Matthew Stafford embracing new system


Allen Park — Matthew Stafford seems to be embracing the “new is always better” philosophy.

After five years under the same coaching staff, the Lions’ signal-caller is learning from three new coaches — Jim Caldwell, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter — that were hired to help reverse his regression from the past two seasons.

“It’s just different,” Stafford said. “I’m being coached differently, our drops are different, our reads are different, the plays are totally different.

“So it was kind of nice to just scrap everything and start from new with the way they wanted me to do it, and I’ve been trying to embrace myself in that as much as I possibly can and it’s been fun.”

It’s also been working, if training camp is any indication. Stafford has yet to throw an interception in a 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drill.

“That’s a credit to him and the work that he’s done,” Lombardi said.

Stafford, who joked Lombardi jinxed his streak, gave credit to the offensive line for blocking well and the wide receivers for batting down passes that could’ve been intercepted, but besides a handful of errant throws, the quarterback has been on the mark in camp. After throwing 19 interceptions last season, the new staff put an emphasis on avoiding turnovers, which has worked so far.

“Obviously, a focus of the offseason is trying to make sure we’re smart with the football, and we’ve been able to do that,” Stafford said.

Cooter has been the coach leading quarterback drills, and Lombardi said Stafford has embraced everything thrown at him thus far. His footwork looks better, and he looks comfortable throwing to new weapons like Golden Tate and Eric Ebron.

Stafford has faced a lot of scrutiny this offseason, and it was compounded by the Lions’ continued efforts to surround him with experienced quarterback coaches and targets on offense. And according to Lombardi, all of the pressure on Stafford is justified.

“That’s the QB position — all the pressure is always going to be on him,” Lombardi said. “Like all competitive people — and he’s a highly competitive guy — they put more pressure on themselves than anyone else does, so it’s fair.”

Stafford will have his first chance to show his improvement and knowledge of the new offense in Saturday’s exhibition opener against the Cleveland Browns. The Lions won’t unload the entire playbook and Stafford will only play a few series, but it’s the best opportunity for him to show how he’s doing in the new scheme.

“It’s getting easier and easier every day,” he said. “I feel very comfortable with it right now.”

'I'm being coached differently, our drops are different, our reads are different, the plays are totally different,' Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford says. / Daniel Mears / Detroit News