Three weeks ago, the Detroit Lions underwent a radical change.
After a 1-7 start to the season, the Lions decided to clean house, with bosses reportedly walking through the building deciding who was staying and who was going.
Though head coach Jim Caldwell stayed, the Lions fired their president and GM just one week after firing their offensive coordinator.
Three weeks later, it seems the Lions have turned a corner. They’re now 4-7, on a three-game winning streak, and the changes seem to have reinvigorated Matthew Stafford.
Over the last three weeks, Stafford has a 65.7% completion percentage with seven touchdowns and just one interception. On Thanksgiving, Stafford played a huge part in the Lions’ evisceration of the Philadelphia Eagles, throwing for 337 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions.
After the game, Stafford spoke highly of about new offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, who’s style seems to fit Stafford.
“Jim Bob and I have a good relationship,” Stafford told reporters. “He’s a smart guy. He communicates well with the guys on our offence. He’s young in this job, but he’s not afraid. He’s aggressive and that’s fun. That rubs off on guys when a guy’s aggressive and trusts us as players to go out and make those decisions.”
Stafford raved about Cooter’s daring play-calling, specifically on a third-and-17 situation late in the first half when Cooter ripped up the play-call, and said, according to Stafford, “Ah, screw that, let’s go be aggressive.”
Stafford fired a 25-yard bullet to Calvin Johnson for one of his three touchdowns.
“And he gave me four verticals and I was fired up for it, I loved it,” Stafford said.
The Lions offence, save for Thursday’s beatdown on the Eagles, hasn’t always been pretty. Prior to Thursday, the Lions hadn’t cracked 20 points in their first three games under Cooter.
Nonetheless, after a disastrous start to the season, where the Lions were 0-6, while Stafford hadn’t cracked 300 passing yards and had thrown six touchdowns to eight interceptions, Stafford clearly looks more comfortable.
The Lions face a steep climb to the playoffs, but they’re not completely out of it, either. The Packers are slipping, having lost four of their last five, the Vikings currently hold the division lead at 7-3, and the Bears are making moves as they’re now 5-6 after beating the Packers on Thanksgiving.
After a big game against the Packers in Week 13, with a little bit of luck and a fairly easy schedule the rest of the way, with Lions could still make a last-ditch effort to make the postseason.
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