Lions' Stafford wants Cooter back, 'no question'

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford runs in the first quarter Sunday vs. the Niners.

The Lions have been a much better offensive team since Jim Bob Cooter took over as offensive coordinator.

In addition to playing better, the players appear more comfortable with each play call, and instead of being upset about losses, the men are regretful about big plays they missed in wins.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford is on one of the best stretches of his career with a passer rating of 100-plus in four of the past five games, and after Sunday's win over the 49ers, he said he hopes Cooter is back for an encore in 2016.

"It's not my decision," he said. "I just know we're playing really well on offense right now, and I'm having a good time. I think everybody is. He's a smart guy. It's not my decision, but I'd like to have him back, no question."

In the first seven games this year under Joe Lombardi, the Lions eclipsed 20 points just twice. In the last eight games under Cooter, they've exceeded 20 points four times, including point totals of 45, 35 and 32. Entering Week 8, the Lions ranked 29th in points per game, but now they're 18th.

Wojo: Stafford, Johnson rekindle the spark

The increased scoring, as it often does, has led to more victories, too. The Lions were 1-6 when coach Jim Caldwell fired Lombardi, and they're 5-3 since.

The improvement of Stafford, who now ranks 10th in the NFL in passer rating and fifth in completion percentage, has been a key reason for the turnaround under Cooter, the former quarterbacks coach.

"I think Jim Bob and I are on the same page the majority, if not all, the time," Stafford said. "We have good discussions throughout the week talking about what we like and things like that."

Stafford also said he was upset about failing to connect on a deep pass to wide receiver Calvin Johnson because that was a play Stafford wanted to run. He's more comfortable in the offense, despite being in it for just a couple months, and said his teammates are, too.

"I think he's a smart guy," Stafford said of Cooter. "He's doing a good job of trying to create matchups. We're getting the ball out quick sometimes, we're holding it other times. It's kind of tough to get a bead on us, what we're trying to do."