Caldwell says now is a great time to give Stafford structure and guidance

Posted Jan 19, 2014

From his experience, new Lions head coach Jim Caldwell says it’s typically the fourth, fifth or six seasons when NFL quarterbacks see more growth and development

Matthew StaffordPhoto: Gavin Smith/Detroit Lions

Matthew Stafford will be entering his sixth NFL season when the calendar flips to March and the new league year begins. Sometimes people forget he's been in the league that long because he will only be 26 years old (his birthday is February 7).

New head coach Jim Caldwell is expected to work closely with Stafford in the coming months to take his game to another level, which, in turn, could take the Lions over the hump.

"It is a very, very difficult game to play from that position and I think guys grow and develop," Caldwell told ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning radio show on Friday when asked about Stafford. "Through my experience in the league now, typically, around that fourth, fifth, sixth year you really start to see some more growth and development."

Stafford is entering his sixth season, but we shouldn't forget he played just 13 total games over his first two seasons because of injuries. In terms of games played, Stafford doesn't have a full four seasons of work under his belt.

"It takes time," Caldwell said. "And the fact of the matter is ... when you look at him, he can make all the throws. He's smart. He's dedicated. He wants to get better. He works at his craft. And I think it's a great time to have an opportunity to give him a little more structure and guidance in terms of how we do things."

It's the same kind of structure and guidance Caldwell gave to Peyton Manning in Indianapolis when he became Manning's quarterback coach in 2002. At the time, Manning was entering his fifth season in the league.

In Caldwell's second season with Manning, he produced then-career highs in completions (379), completion percentage (67) and yards (4,267).

The following year he threw 49 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions and finished with a 121.1 quarterback rating.

"I think you're going to continue to see him get better, better and better," Caldwell said. "I really do believe that.

"Often times you maybe have a guy that can't make all the throws. Maybe it's a guy that doesn't have command of the line of scrimmage that he should. I think Matthew has all of those things. He has natural leadership, he's got the toughness and I think the arrow is still pointing up on him."