Mobile, Ala. — Lions coach Jim Caldwell said it will be "quite an honor" for Matthew Stafford to play in his first Pro Bowl Sunday. Stafford will be the first Lions quarterback to play in the annual all-star game since Greg Landry after the 1971 season.
And even though being named to the Pro Bowl is an accomplishment for Stafford, it won't impact the quarterback's goals moving forward, Caldwell said Wednesday at the Senior Bowl.
"It's not a point where I think he feels that he's proved a point or anything of that nature because he's far from doing what he wants to do," the coach said. "I think he'd probably trade everything that he has for a Super Bowl title, and that's what we're shooting for. That's the ultimate goal for him. To be able to participate in this game, though, it's pretty special."
Stafford is one of four replacement quarterbacks who will participate in the game that's having an increasingly hard time keeping the NFL's top stars in the lineup. Stafford, New Orleans' Drew Brees, Atlanta's Matt Ryan and Cincinnati's Andy Dalton accepted invitations after Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger, Denver's Peyton Manning, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and New England's Tom Brady backed out. Brady can't play because he'll play in the Super Bowl the following Sunday.
Three of the original running backs and four of the wide receivers, including Calvin Johnson, also will not play in the Pro Bowl. Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh declined his invitation, too.
Stafford this year decreased his interceptions to 12 after throwing 19 in 2013, which helped the Lions' No. 2 defense control most of the games. He finished the season ranked 25th in completion percentage, 19th in yards-per-attempt (7.1), 14th in touchdowns (22) and 21st in passer rating (85.7) but was ninth in passing yards (4,257).
"Everybody will look at the numbers and say maybe those numbers aren't as good as he's had in previous years, but the things that matter in terms of winning, he improved upon," Caldwell said. "And that was certainly the turnovers, he minimized those in terms of the numbers that he had, improved in that area greatly. But then also just his ability to still be able to throw for over 4,000 yards and move our team, I think that was extremely important."
Caldwell declined to provide an update on defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, who has not yet been rejected from the Atlanta Falcons head coach search but is helping the Lions interview players at the Senior Bowl.
"I'm not going to make any comments about coach Austin at this point until everything has been resolved," Caldwell said. "There's still things that are still out there and opportunities still out there, so we'll wait and see what happens."
… Caldwell declined comment on an NFL Network report from Monday that the Lions rejected an interview request from the Bears to talk to quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter for their offensive coordinator opening.
… Caldwell on wide receiver Golden Tate playing in the Pro Bowl: "Golden had a superb year with 99 catches and just did an incredible job on third down for us, was a great leader for us as well."