Detroit Lions QBs coach: No frustration for Matthew Stafford, just resolve to fix things

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

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Where some people see frustration in Matthew Stafford after 12 long years in Detroit, the latest of which will wrap next month, likely with another losing record, Lions quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan sees resolve.

“I think he’s coming into it, like, ‘All right, what do I need to do to do my job better?’ ” Ryan said Tuesday. “And quite frankly, that’s kind of what we all need to be asking right now, and just put our heads down and go to work and make it about the next five weeks. So I don’t see frustration, I see resolve, and I see the want-to of moving forward for the next five weeks.”

Stafford declined to address his future beyond the next five weeks during his weekly media session Monday, but the Lions are at an organizational crossroads as they enter the final month of the 2020 season.

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Head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn were fired last week, and parallel searches are ongoing for their replacements.

Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp praised Stafford as a player, but said she will leave all decisions about his future to the next regime. The Lions could be in position to take his replacement with a high draft pick this offseason, and if they don’t, they soon will have to sign him to another contract extension.

And that decision aside, Stafford, 32, has options to weigh about his future.

He appears to be tiring of the losing he has endured throughout his career, he did put his Bloomfield Township house up for sale in the spring, though it currently does not appear on any listing service, and his good friend, ESPN analyst and former Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky, suggested on social media last week a change could benefit both parties.

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Ryan, in his second season with the Lions, tried to steer clear of speculation about Stafford’s future.

“Honestly, we don’t get involved in that stuff,” Ryan said. “You can’t. Obviously, I have a very, very high opinion of Matthew Stafford and his ability to play quarterback, and right now it’s for the Detroit Lions and that’s really all I know. I don’t make much of the talk, to be honest with you. It’s nothing that I need to get involved in or want to be a part of, so I just stay away from it.”

Stafford has had a below-average season by his standards. He is on pace to throw for 4,183 yards, but has eight interceptions — three of them returned for touchdowns — and the Lions have lost five games by double digits.

He has thrown one or fewer touchdown passes in five of the past seven games, and two weeks ago got shutout in a loss to the Carolina Panthers for the second time in his career.

Stafford has not said whether he has the stomach to stick around for another regime change, or be part of a major rebuild.

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The Lions have made the playoffs three times in Stafford’s 12 seasons, and their four winning seasons is equal to the number of head coaches Stafford will have played for, including interim head coach Darrell Bevell.

Ryan said Stafford has “normal stuff” to clean up with his play — “It’s the common things you see. It always comes back to footwork and decision making,” he said — but otherwise is pouring his energy into trying to finish this season on a good note.

The Lions (4-7) visit the Chicago Bears on Sunday, then play three straight likely playoff teams before finishing the season against the Minnesota Vikings.

“He’s a very good quarterback in this league,” Ryan said. “And I feel like I’m very fortunate to coach him and to be part of the team that he’s running.”

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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