By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Coming from the New Orleans Saints, new Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi had high expectations for quarterback Matthew Stafford. Evidently, Stafford has met and even exceeded those expectations.
“He’s really remarkably bright,” Lombardi said Wednesday. “I’ve heard that he was a smart player, but the speed and ease with which he picks things up has even surprised me, and I had pretty high expectations coming in. So, I think he’s doing really well.”
Under the tutelage of new quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter, footwork has been a focus, Lombardi said.
“Jim Bob is working with him a lot, doing a lot of footwork drills and progression drills,” Lombardi said. “Like most quarterbacks, when his feet are right, the passes are usually right. Again, as he gets comfortable with the progressions and the timing, so much of it is dependent on the timing of the routes and where my feet should be. He’s still learning a little bit of that, but he’s grasping it pretty quickly.”
Stafford did not go into any detail regarding the type of drills or how much more his footwork is emphasized now versus earlier in his career, but he said that so far the work has been fairly standard.
“It’s just whatever these coaches brought with them,” Stafford said with a laugh. “It’s not salsa dancing or anything crazy. It’s football quarterback drills, man … Just a different way of doing it and approaching it.”
Like everyone else, Stafford is working to grasp the new scheme and the terminology that goes with it, and like most other players, Stafford admits the process is challenging.
“I think early on it was maybe comparing it a little bit [with] what it used to be and trying to give you, ‘This used to be somewhat like this or somewhat like that,’ but now it’s to the point now where everything is totally separate,” Stafford said. “It’s its own, and you’re just learning this to learn this, and that’s what makes it difficult – not only learning something new but having to forget something you did for five, six years.”
In addition to learning the playbook and accompanying lingo, Stafford has some new teammates with whom to build chemistry, including a Super Bowl-winning wide receiver in Golden Tate and a 10th overall draft pick in tight end Eric Ebron.
“You continue to try and correct little mistakes that you have each day and try and make sure they don’t pop up over and over again, and once you get that kind of stuff down, you’ve got to start really mastering each guy and his individual route tree and how he’s running certain routes because even some of the routes that we’re running now are different than we’ve run in the past,” Stafford said. “There’s a growing process … That’s what these [OTAs] are for.”