(Photo: Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
The last time the Lions made a coaching change, they loaded the staff up with experienced quarterback tutors who could take Matthew Stafford’s game to the next level. Four years later, his completion percentage is up, his mistakes are down and it’s fair to say that goal was achieved.
Back in the coaching carousel this offseason, the Lions selected Matt Patricia as the next man to run the ship. A former collegiate offensive lineman, there’s a familiarity with both sides of the ball, but he’s built his reputation coaching defense. Still, he believes he has something to offer Stafford that could further elevate the quarterback’s performance.
“I would hope that maybe I could come in and give him a little bit different perspective,” Patricia said at this week’s league meetings. “Maybe something from my point of view from playing against him a couple times, and just certain things that I look at when we’re going against other quarterbacks that might help him out. Maybe some different ways to look at defense, from that standpoint. Try to look at some different alignments or different coverages or different fronts, and then help him from that standpoint.”
Patricia raved about his quarterback’s talent, toughness, work ethic and competitive drive. As a first-year coach, he knows he’s fortunate to have a solution in place at the position.
“I mean, that’s a huge weight off your shoulders,” Patricia said. “You’re obviously very excited about it.”
Since Patricia’s hiring in February, the two have had the opportunity to speak, multiple times, but primarily on a personal level. The collective bargaining agreement prohibits coaches and players from discussing football during this time of the year.
The No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft, Stafford is preparing to enter his 10th season with the Lions. He’s coming off a third straight campaign where he completed better than 65 percent of his passes to go along with 29 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
It will also be the first season of a five-year contract extension Stafford signed last offseason. At the time, it made him the NFL’s highest-paid player. The deal has since been topped by Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins this offseason, and Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan are also making progress on extensions that will likely top Stafford’s $135-million pact.