LIONS INSIDER

Stafford wants to continue working with Cooter

Posted Jan 2, 2018

Ultimately it's the new head coach's decision, but if it was up to quarterback Matthew Stafford, Jim Bob Cooter would stay on as offensive coordinator.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in nine major passing categories this season. He threw the second-most 25-plus yard completions (39), was third in completions (371), third in yards (4,446), fourth in touchdowns (29), fourth in attempts (565), sixth in completion percentage (65.7), sixth in passer rating (99.3), sixth in yards per attempt (7.87) and 10th in interception percentage (1.8).

From a statistical standpoint, it was one of Stafford’s better seasons over a career that's stemmed nine years.

Stafford’s worked under three offensive coordinators over that stretch, and if he had his way, he wouldn’t like to see a fourth in year 10.

Stafford lobbied for the return of offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter on Monday.

"Jim Bob and I have a great relationship and ever since he’s had the opportunity to take the reins, this offense has moved in the right direction in my opinion," Stafford said. "I feel like I’m playing some of the best football of my career, so I would love to have the opportunity to keep working with him. He’s been good for us and good for me."

Stafford completed around 60 percent of his passes in the six and a half years before Cooter was promoted to coordinator midway through the 2015 season. That number has climbed to over 66 percent since Cooter took over. Stafford’s also had the two lowest interception totals of his career the past two seasons. Since the middle of the 2015 season, Stafford’s passer rating has seen roughly a 14-point rise.

"I think continuity is important in this league to a certain extent and I voiced my opinions earlier just a second ago on our guys on the offensive staff," Stafford said. "I think they do a good job, I think our offense is going in the right direction, I think our team is close so we’ll see what happens."

The offensive staff, with the exception of offensive line coach Ron Prince, who was also relieved of his duties on Monday, remains under contract.

Lions general manager Bob Quinn said during his Monday press conference whoever he hires to be the next head coach will have complete control of his own coaching staff.

“I’m trying to find the best head coach,” Quinn said. “I’m trying to find the best head coach and if the best head coach wants to keep (the current offensive staff) going, then that’s something we can talk about.

“But my first focus is the head coach. We can worry about the offensive coordinator and the quarterback after that.”

Quinn said no players will be involved in the search for a new head coach, and if the new coach does want a new offensive staff in place, he's confident Stafford can adjust accordingly.

“I think Matthew’s a good enough quarterback that he can kind of play in any system,” Quinn said. “I mean, you guys have seen him play, he can make all the throws. So, I don’t think it’s a big detriment of what scheme the new coach may or may not run.”

One area Quinn and the new head coach are likely to look long and hard at is Detroit’s run game, which has gotten worse under Cooter. Is that scheme or personnel? Will the change in coaching along the offensive line lead to the improvements in that department?

“I think the ability to be a little bit more balanced would help us,” Stafford said. “We gotta find ways to be better running the football, even if that’s just efficiency. It doesn’t mean we’re going to hand it 40 times a game and try to rush for 200 yards a game. That may not be the solution, but just got to find a way to be a little bit better. That’s everybody, myself included, getting us in the correct runs. Running the ball is an all-11 thing on offense. We can definitely be better.”

There’s been some good and some bad when it comes to Detroit’s offense since Cooter took over. It will be interesting to see what the new head coach decides when the time comes.