It was stated many times that the Detroit Lions needed to hire a head coach who is offense-minded and can help take Matthew Stafford to the next level. There’s little doubt that Jim Caldwell is good enough at developing quarterbacks that he can do just that, and what makes hiring a coach who can work with Stafford so important is the fact that Stafford has limitless potential. This is a guy with as much arm talent and poise as any quarterback in the league, but he is also inconsistent due to below-average technique. Since Stafford is unwilling to get a QB guru to help him out, it’s up to the Lions coach to clean Stafford’s game up and take him to the next level.
Many coaches and analysts tout footwork as being among the most important things for quarterbacks, and it’s clear that Caldwell is among those who values footwork highly. All you have to do is look at Peyton Manning for an example about how exemplary footwork helps create accuracy and poise and allows for a QB to throw with a strong base and find open targets easier. A QB’s feet and the rest of his body have to work in sync, which is something that Stafford appears to struggle with on tape.
When Caldwell interviewed with the Lions, he came in with a list of things he would do to help Stafford become a better quarterback. According to Peter King, Caldwell said, “I’ve watched every throw Matthew made last season, because when I came here and met with him, I wanted to have some familiarity with him. We didn’t go through film together, but we talked about I saw, and I listened to him, and it was very beneficial. We have used a set of drills in coaching over the years that I think has added some consistency to all the quarterbacks we’ve coached. The great majority of poor throws—people look at the arm, and that’s important obviously, but I think footwork is the key. I can pull up any gamefilm and show you how our footwork drills help you. In a nutshell, the feet and eyes work together. If I’m throwing in a particular direction, my footwork is pointing in the same direction—directly at the target. We’ll work on it with Matthew, and he will do them flawlessly.”
I find Caldwell’s emphasis on working with Stafford to improve his footwork especially interesting given what new Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay said about the importance of helping Robert Griffin III improve his footwork. If you are interested, you can read McVay’s comments here.