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Mr. Big Shot: Stafford happy to throw the deep ball

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Matthew Stafford

Allen Park — Now that he's tied the knot and taken his honeymoon, Matthew Stafford said he's glad to be back in Allen Park focusing on football.

And he was also happy to hear that offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi wants to take more shots down the field in 2015, something Lombardi said last month at the team's town hall meeting with season-ticket holders.

"Yeah, I'm all for it, and I think having another year in an offense is going to help that," Stafford said Tuesday. "Everybody understands it better so that way we make the shorter plays more efficient. We make sure that we're hitting those, and that gives an offensive coordinator and a quarterback and a team and an offense more confidence to go out there and take the big shot."

Stafford said he feels a lot more comfortable in Lombardi's offense now than a year ago, and that should be the case with many of his teammates, too. As for what Stafford wanted to improve this year, he listed accuracy and decision making, but thinks those will improve in Year 2 of the scheme, too.

The Lions' offense produced mixed results in Lombardi's first year. On one hand, Stafford received credit for five fourth-quarter comebacks, and the Lions played well enough to go 11-5 and secure a playoff berth. On the other, the Lions finished 19th in total offense and 22nd in scoring.

"I was pleased," Stafford said of 2014. "Obviously, you win 11 games, that's a good season. It's not as good as we can be, for sure, but I think the first year in a new offense, quite a few new faces in some spots all the way throughout the year as far as injuries go. But we battled, we hung together, played really good situational football late in games, won a bunch of games late and that's what this league is about.

"You're not going to blow everybody out every week, but just finding a way to win games was big for us."

And like the offense as a whole, how Stafford performed in 2014 depends on who's evaluating him. He reduced his interceptions from 19 to 12, and he improved his completion percentage to 60.3 percent after 58.5 percent in 2013. But most of his numbers were average or below average compared to the rest of the league.

Meanwhile, the Lions suffered from poor offensive line play as Stafford took a career-high 45 sacks and the team's run game ranked 28th. And even though the Lions don't have a player with NFL experience at left guard on the roster, Stafford isn't concerned about his new-look line.

"It's April," he said. "We're not playing a game tomorrow. I'm not too worried about it. I trust the guys upstairs."

And looking at 2015, Stafford is confident in the offense as a group.

"We feel like we have a ton of talent," he said. "More pieces to add, I'm sure, in spots with the rest of this free agency and the draft and all that, and then come together and see what happens."

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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