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Cooter: Matthew Stafford may be even better without Calvin Johnson

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) looks for a receiver during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) AP

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is still getting used to life without Calvin Johnson.

And the guy calling the plays for him thinks he’s even better because of it.

Via Michael Rothstein of, Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said he sees Stafford developing, even without one of the best receivers of a generation.

“I think he’s a growing and developing quarterback, so yes, I do think he was better than he was the last year, two years ago, three years ago,” Cooter said. “Hopefully we’re all getting better every year. I think he falls into that category too. But I think he’s doing a really good job with what we’re asking him to do and so are the receivers, tight ends and backs.”

Stafford’s on pace to throw for 4,410 yards, and for the best completion percentage (68.0) and passer rating (99.6) of his career. And while the temptation to throw it to Johnson is great and justifiable, Cooter said it often made things harder than they had to be.

“He’s really just trying to throw it to the open guy. It’s as simple as that. It sounds overly simple, but it’s a really big deal,” Cooter said. “You know, when you have Calvin Johnson out there, one of the all-time great receivers, going to the Hall of Fame as soon as you can get him in there, it makes a lot of sense to try and throw that guy the ball. Sometimes you might override your read to do that.

“Sometimes it’s easier for a quarterback, you have your reads, you have your progressions, you have your thought processes, and you just go around throwing it to who gets open. He’s doing a good job of doing that.”

Of course, when Stafford’s in a tight situation late in a game or some other key spot, he’s also going to be throwing to a far less-talented receiver. But so far, it’s working for him.

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14 Responses to “Cooter: Matthew Stafford may be even better without Calvin Johnson”
  1. sameer1138 says: Oct 13, 2016 1:39 PM

    Whatever cooter says, goes.

  2. spartylegendhyzersmadcuzlionssobad says: Oct 13, 2016 1:42 PM


  3. publicenemy#1 says: Oct 13, 2016 1:44 PM

    I actually knew that would happen. If his O line holds up he can do damage.

  4. thefootballblogger23 says: Oct 13, 2016 1:48 PM

    Well hes not as terrible without as we all thought.

    He also has two more wins than I thought he would have this season.

  5. torebear says: Oct 13, 2016 1:53 PM

    Impossible. I was told here on pft in august that that was nonsense and that Stafford would be lost without Calvin Johnson. Lions fans were just being delusional.

  6. weepingjebus says: Oct 13, 2016 2:14 PM

    Yet ironically if he does play better he will then retire prematurely.

  7. pleazenufalready says: Oct 13, 2016 2:31 PM

    You lost to the Bears! …how good can you possibly be?

  8. hawksfansince77 says: Oct 13, 2016 2:52 PM

    He could define quantum physics to me, but as soon as I see the name “Cooter”, I just lose it.

  9. jag1959 says: Oct 13, 2016 3:14 PM

    Well played PFT. I knew what the point would be without reading the article but it’s impossible not to click on an article that starts out with the “Cooter.” Although come to think of it “Jim Bob” would have worked just about as well…maybe even better.

  10. polegojim says: Oct 13, 2016 4:12 PM

    Holy ‘SHUT UP’ Cooterman.

    You’re offense has done SQUAT consistently and Stafford has yet to prove he can get past the regular season without laying a major EGG.

    He’s a stat padding QB… PLENTY out there.

  11. Ivan Pavlov says: Oct 13, 2016 4:14 PM

    I’ve noticed Stafford taking more control of the offense this year. He talks to people more — it’s definitely HIS offense. When a QB is that comfortable, it’s always a good sign.

    Too bad the Lions have no running game and a weak defense.

  12. pastabelly says: Oct 13, 2016 4:27 PM

    Stafford loves Cooter. There you go. I got that out of my system. Most of us can’t wait until Cooter is a head coach and we can get more creative with our Cooter jokes.

  13. thekiy says: Oct 14, 2016 11:18 AM

    His numbers are better than you think, considering that really only one of his INTs was a bad throw. The others were bad routes (Golden Tate) or literally plucked from the defenders hands (Eric Ebron).

  14. fontesmustgo says: Oct 14, 2016 3:14 PM

    Cooter doesn’t miss Johnson.

    Heh. I made myself chuckle.

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