By Nick Shook
Read full post on NFL.com
Matthew Stafford will soon welcome his third head coach during his career in Detroit. He’s hoping a new offensive system doesn’t come with him.
The quarterback was one of two Lions to give their endorsement for retaining offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, even after head coach Jim Caldwell was fired on Monday.
“Jim Bob and I have a great relationship,” Stafford said, via ESPN. “Ever since he’s had an opportunity to take the reins, this offense has moved in the right direction in my opinion. 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 isn’t speaking hyperbolically when he says the offense is moving in the right direction under Cooter. Consider this statistical difference:
Stafford in pre-Cooter era (2009-2014)
» Wins-losses: 36-48
» Completion percentage: 60.1
» TD-INT: 143-94
» Passer rating: 83.9
Stafford in Cooter era (Week 8 of 2015-2017)
» Wins-losses: 24-17
» Completion percentage: 66.3
» TD-INT: 73-24
» Passer rating: 98.2
The improvement under Cooter is undeniable. Detroit paid Stafford handsomely last offseason as a result, inking him to a league-high $135 million contract.
Stafford isn’t alone in this school of thought, though. Receiver Marvin Jones, who enjoyed a career-best season in 2017 (61 catches, 1,101 yards, nine touchdowns) in his second campaign as a Lion also trumpeted the efforts of the 33-year-old coordinator.
“I’d love it,” Jones said of Detroit’s next head coach potentially retaining Cooter. “Just what he’s done in a matter of, he’s a young coordinator and last year was his first full year and I think we made strides last year with everybody coming in and being new to the system, to this year.
“He’s definitely a bright mind and somebody that obviously we want to see in the future. I know he’s done a lot for Matt, he’s done a lot for us in terms of our expectations and having that bar set high for the whole offense and everybody individually. So yeah, most definitely.”
In 2017, Jones developed into a big-play receiver the Lions have been missing since the retirement of Calvin Johnson, all while playing in Cooter’s system. But Lions GM Bob Quinn didn’t sound as concerned with retaining a coodinator who was part of a staff that saw the head coach fired after four seasons.
“I’m trying to find the best head coach and if the best head coach wants to keep that going, then that’s something we can talk about,” Quinn said. “But my first focus is the head coach. We’ll worry about the offensive coordinator, quarterback after that.”
Detroit knows what it has in Stafford and is more concerned with the person in charge of the team, not just the offense. That’s absolutely understandable. But multiple key players giving ringing endorsements of a coordinator, even after a head coaching change, speaks volumes about that coordinator’s impact on their play. None of that matters if the next coach wants to bring in his own guys, though, meaning a promising coordinator could soon be on the market — or back for more with Stafford and Co.