Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) looks down during overtime against the New York Giants at Ford Field. Giants beat the Lions 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The worst-kept secret in the NFL was that Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford needed to be refined.

He has regressed since the 2011 season when he threw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns. Over the past two seasons Stafford has backslid. He completed 63.5 percent of his passes in 2011. In 2012, it was 59.8 percent and in 2013 his percentage dove to 58.5, which was good for 30th in the league.

Stafford would always say there's nothing wrong, but his play on the field said otherwise. Fans started to watch the Lions and wait for the untimely interception off of an ill-advised throw. The worse part was that former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was an enabler of Stafford's lousy performances.

Stafford threw 12 picks in his final seven games of last season, and was culpable for 14 turnovers overall during that stretch as the Lions finished 1-6 after a 6-3 start. Seven games doesn't make a career, but the way the turnovers happened you don't see the elite quarterbacks make.

General manager Martin Mayhew finally admitted what many knew all along: Stafford needs some work.

"I think there certainly has to be some work done. I couldn't really quantify that. I don't think his confidence has fallen very far. I mean, think about it. In Week 9, his numbers were outstanding. We were winning games. We were playing really well.

"Didn't finish up the second half of the season the way we expected to, do the things that we wanted to do. But there are a lot of moving pieces to that. It's not all on Matthew. I've been in contact with him several times since the end of the season and he sounds pretty confident to me."

If the season were nine games, the Lions might be in the Super Bowl. Instead, they're watching from their lavish homes once again.

The team has taken steps to get Stafford back on track.

The Lions have hired former Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell, who worked extensively with Peyton Manning. The Lions have tabbed former New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach, Jim Lombardi as their offensive coordinator. Lombardi worked with Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

Considering the past of the offensive coaches brought on board so far, many of the hires are geared to help Stafford.


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