Matthew Stafford lobbies Detroit Lions to keep Jim Bob Cooter as OC

Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press
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Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford looks to pass against the Packers in the first half Sunday.

Matthew Stafford has worked with three offensive coordinators in his first nine NFL seasons, and the Detroit Lions quarterback would like to keep it that way heading into Year 10.

Stafford said Monday he hopes the Lions maintain continuity on offense after firing Jim Caldwell as head coach.

Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and most of the rest of the offensive staff remain under contract, and the next Lions coach will pick which of those assistants to keep.

Offensive line coach Ron Prince was the only assistant fired along with Caldwell on Monday.

"Jim Bob and I have a great relationship and ever since he’s had the opportunity to take the reins, this offense has moved in the right direction in my opinion," Stafford said. "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 has completed 66.3 percent of his passes and averaged more than 272 yards passing per game since Cooter was promoted to offensive coordinator seven games into the 2015 season.

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The Lions went 24-16 during that span, and this year had the league's seventh-ranked scoring offense at 25.6 points per game.

in the 6 1/2 seasons before Cooter took over as coordinator, Stafford completed 60.1 percent of his passes.

"I think continuity is important in this league to a certain extent and I voiced my opinions earlier just a second ago on our guys on the offensive staff," Stafford said. "I think they do a good job, I think our offense is going in the right direction, I think our team is close so we’ll see what happens."

Stafford, who signed a five-year, $135 million contract extension in August — the richest ever given to an NFL player — is one of the major selling points the Lions have to offer their next head coach.

Stafford doesn't turn 30 until next month, he has been impressively durable with 112 consecutive starts, and he has several years left in the prime of his career.

The No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 NFL draft, Stafford said Monday that Caldwell deserves credit for helping him improve his play in recent seasons.

"He’s been great," Stafford said. "He’s as level-headed a guy as I’ve ever been around, understands the position of quarterback really well and was great for me and great for a lot of guys on offense just to bounce ideas off of, so I have a ton of respect for him. just the way he carried himself, the (way) he coached us, the way he treated everybody. He’s a great guy and a great coach."

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Though Stafford said he'd "absolutely be all for" taking part in interviews with coaching candidates in the coming weeks, general manager Bob Quinn said he won't involve players in the search process.

In 2014, Stafford met with Caldwell for about 10 minutes during his interview in Allen Park, and briefly with several other candidates as well.

Quinn said he wants a coach that can work with Stafford, but that his biggest priority is finding "the best coach to help us win a championship."

"I think Matthew’s a good enough quarterback that he can kind of play in any system," Quinn said. "I mean, you guys have seen him play, he can make all the throws. So I don’t think it’s a big detriment of what scheme the new coach may or may not run."

Contact Dave Birkett: Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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