Detroit Lions coaches know why Matthew Stafford's play has been mediocre

Matthew Stafford's back is fine, but his feet need fixing.
Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan said Monday they don't believe the back injuries Stafford has sustained over the past two seasons contributed to his slow start this fall.
Rather, the Lions assistants said Stafford was inaccurate with his footwork.
"I think there are a lot of things that are really important (how he played this year)," said Bevell. "But I think if you make it as easy as possible for the quarterback I had a little talk with him about it. I think it usually goes back to your feet because your feet really tell you the story. Your feet are that What gets you through your progress gets you through the game, and I think we can move on (to get better there). "
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in the fourth quarter on September 27, 2020.
Stafford played arguably the best football of his career last season when he broke his back against the Oakland Raiders towards the end of week nine and missed the last eight games of the season.
He finished with 2,499 yards of passing, 19 touchdowns and had career highs in passer rating (106) and yards per attempt (9.1).
In the Lions 1-3 start this year, Stafford threw 1,017 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. His humble rating of 93.8 passers-by is only marginally better than rookie Joe Burrow's, and he only completes 60.6% of his passes, his lowest rate since 2014.
"I didn't see any injuries at his end," said Ryan. "He made me feel good and didn't give you any hint of anything else. I think footwork is always, it's always great for quarterbacks, you always work on it. If you think you'll ever get through it, you're probably standing before a problem. It needs to be talked about all the time. There has been talk within advances of how to turn the eyes with the feet. It all comes together. It never goes away. It's just something we always harp on, even if it is perfect, we will harp on it and we do that now. "
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, 9, and head coach Matt Patricia watch a New Orleans Saints result at Ford Field in the second half of Sunday, October 4, 2020.
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Poor footwork helped Stafford miss multiple throws in the Lions' Week 4 loss to the New Orleans Saints, and has been an issue on at least two of his interceptions this season.
Against the Saints, Stafford T.J. Squatting in the front corner of the end zone as he rolled over to the right and threw off his back foot after leaving the bag prematurely.
The game was tied by 14 at the time, and New Orleans scored the next 21 points.
In Week 1, Stafford forced an interception into double coverage that sparked the Chicago Bears' successful touchdown ride. In Week 2, he failed to straighten his feet before throwing an interception out of his own end zone, which was returned for a touchdown. He also threw an interception in Week 4 when he tried to force a pass into double cover, which was overturned by penalty.
Stafford's sales against the Saints and Packers were reminiscent of the imbalanced throws he often did early in his career.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford will face the New Orleans Saints at Ford Field in the second half of Sunday, October 4, 2020.
Even so, Bevell insisted that "I have no" concerns about Stafford's back and that footwork is "the main thing we're focusing on right now."
"That hasn't been mentioned a single time this year," Bevell said of Stafford's health.
What could contribute to this are injuries that Lions on the offensive dealt with. Kenny Golladay, the # 1 recipient, missed the first two games of the season with a sore Achilles tendon. an inconsistent running game; the fact that Stafford is on track to pick up 48 sacks this season, which would be a career high; and the lack of any off-season Lions had due to the coronavirus pandemic.
[Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford explains why he cut his knee during the national anthem]
Having no preseason games, Stafford had 10 months between games between last year's game and the start of the regular season last month.
"I thought we were really in a good place last year and then remember that he had the whole time off and not playing with guys on our offensive," said Bevell. "So just keep working on those little details and make sure our feet help us progress, make decisions, and that we take our feet with us in all of our throws."
Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. The Free Press has launched a new digital subscription model. How to get access to our most exclusive Lions content.
This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions Trainers Know Why Matthew Stafford Was Mediocre

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