Lions' Caldwell refutes report on Stafford as 'hogwash'

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and coach Jim Caldwell refuted a report by NFL Network last week that questioned his football acumen

The same report raised doubt about Stafford's future with the team, and he addressed that in his weekly interview with Fox 2 sports director Dan Miller.

"Listen, that's not up to me," Stafford said of his long-term status with the Lions. "It's not. I love playing here; I've enjoyed it. We'll see what happens. Hopefully, I'm here a long time."

With the Lions firing General Manager Martin Mayhew and President Tom Lewand last week, two executives who have been here for the duration of Stafford's career are gone. The quarterback said he can't think about what their dismissal means for him.

"I don't think it helps for me to sit there and think about it," Stafford said on Fox 2. "I'm doing a disservice to the guys in that locker room that are preparing to win games on Sundays to sit there and worry about what the future holds."

In the immediate future, the Lions will try to win in Green Bay for the first time since 1991, and it'll be the second game for Stafford under new offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.

Stafford, of course, struggled in Joe Lombardi's scheme over the past season and a half. Although he reduced his turnovers in 2014, his efficiency didn't really improve, and coach Jim Caldwell fired Lombardi on Oct. 26.

Following the firing of Mayhew and Lewand last week, NFL Network reported that Stafford's future in Detroit is "very much in doubt" beyond 2015.

"I'm also told that Joe Lombardi, the former offensive coordinator, was frustrated that he couldn't put enough on Stafford's plate, did not think he was able to handle it, was not taking as much control of the offense as the coaching staff wanted," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported. "In fact, new offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter actually had to simplify things for Stafford, all of which in part leads to the conclusion that Stafford's days in Detroit are very much numbered."

Whether or not Stafford remains in Detroit in 2016 will surely be a decision made by the new leaders the Ford family hires, so it's premature to discuss the quarterback's future.

Caldwell referred to the reported intelligence issue as "hogwash" on Monday, and he and backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky said they didn't see any frustration between Lombardi and Stafford.

"Typically, I don't respond to that, but the intelligence of our quarterback should not be questioned," Caldwell said.

Orlovsky quickly tried to refute the report last week, sending a handful of tweets to Rapoport.

"I didn't think it was appropriate for me to sit back and just let that be said about someone that was a friend of mine," Orlovsky said Monday.

Orlovsky later explained that his conversations with Stafford aren't strictly related to football.

"He's a, like, pocket nerd," he said. "He's super smart. It's not that I think he's smart; I know he's smart."

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