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O'HARA: Stafford focusing on this season, not his future

Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been through more than his share of coaching and front office changes in 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions, but there's a specter of uncertainty for his future in the firing of general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia.

Principal owner Sheila Ford Hamp spoke highly of Stafford at Saturday's press conference, but she declined to commit fully to Stafford remaining with the Lions under a new general manager and head coach.

Her comments, as follows, warrant repeating.

"I think he's an exceptionally talented young man, and tough as nails," Hamp said. "It's been tough for him – again. I think the coaches will make that decision."

Stafford handled the question of his future with equanimity, as he does most things, in a Zoom interview Monday.

"Obviously, I appreciate everything she has to say," Stafford said. "She's done a great job for us since she's been here.

"As far as my future goes past this season, I'll talk about that and figure that out later on. As for me, I've got a lot of work to be done as a team and as a leader. There's a lot to be done for the rest of the season.

"If I worried about all that other stuff ... that's unfair to my teammates, my coaches, ownership, our fans – everybody. I'm going to put my best foot forward and try to beat the Bears this weekend. We'll try to figure out all that other stuff down the road."

For the present, Stafford expressed regrets over the firing of Quinn and Patricia, but it was clear that he has enjoyed playing for Darrell Bevell the last two years in his role as offensive coordinator and happy that Bevell has been elevated to interim head coach for the rest of the season.

"I hate the way it happened for those guys," Stafford said of the firing. "They put so much time and effort into trying to get this team to where it needs to be. It didn't happen. I understand that this is a winning-based business. I get that. I never feel like it's going to happen. Then it is."

Bevell spoke earlier Monday about wanting players to play fast, have fun, and play with "their hair on fire."

Bevell has 14 seasons of NFL experience as an offensive coordinator -- five with the Vikings (2006-10), seven with the Seahawks (2011-17) and the last two with the Lions.

Bevell talked about the remaining five games on the schedule being his "audition" to be a head coach.

Stafford is aware of how important the games are to Bevell, and how the full team will get acquainted with his upbeat personality and energy.

"As a player, it's a fun game," Stafford said. "It's an exciting game. Let's have some fun and play with some excitement and some passion. I know Bev brings that in his own way.

"He's going to be comfortable in who he is. He's going to bring his energy that's authentic and natural to him. It's on us to go make that come to life on Sundays and win games. I'm excited to see him get the opportunity and stand in front of the team and let some of the guys know who he is.

"For me, I love playing the game of football. I have fun every time I put my helmet on and go out there and play. To me, working hard is fun. I have a blast with my teammates."

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