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Lions look to improve Stafford's footwork

Quarterback Matthew Stafford hasn't been playing at the same level through the team's first four games that we saw in the first eight games for Detroit last season before a back injury ended his season prematurely.

Stafford's passing yards (1,017), touchdowns (8), completion percentage (60.3) and passer rating (93.8) are all off last year's pace from what we saw in his first year in offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's scheme. The question facing the Lions out of the bye week is why?

"I think when you simplify it as easy as you can for the quarterback – I had a small conversation with him about it – I think it usually goes back to your feet," Bevell said.

"Your feet really tell you the story, your feet (are) what gets you through your progressions, gets you through the play, and I think that we can continue – I thought we were really at a good place last year, and then keep in mind, I mean, he had all that time off and not running plays with guys in our offense.

"Just continuing to work on those little details, making sure that our feet are helping us get through progressions, helping us make the decisions and that we bring our feet with us through all our throws."

That seems like a manageable fix, which Lions quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan agreed with when he spoke to the media Monday.

Ryan has taken the approach with Stafford of going through different concepts and working back through different plays to identify where his footwork can be better on a play-to-play basis.

"Here's a concept of ours that we have working versus this coverage, let's get through it and spot something up on the field, let's get through it with my feet, let's get through it with my eyes, and you're really tying into a specific play and specific read," Ryan said. "It's the way I like to do it, because it's got more chance to carry over to the field."

The focus moving forward this week is working on footwork in individual drills and hoping that carries over to team drills and then into games, helping Stafford become more consistent.

Stafford's missed some throws he normally makes, especially some opportunities he's had down the field early in the year. It's always magnified for a quarterback, especially from a player like Stafford, who's been making those kinds of plays consistently throughout his career.

Stafford's yards gained per attempt (7.4) and air yards per attempt (7.6) are also down from last season.

To be fair, Stafford was without his best deep-threat wide receiver in Kenny Golladay the first two games, but Stafford and this offense are still working to put it all together. The hope is that the bye week helped identify some of the problems and now they can work to fix them moving into the second quarter of the season.

"It starts with our feet," Ryan said. "It starts with our accuracy. Less moving parts. He under-threw a ball where's he's moving and extending a play out of the pocket and the more moving parts you have, the less accurate you're going to be. So, a lot of things go into every play, we're just trying to get him as consistent as best as we can get."

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