Friday January 9th, 2015

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said he gave quarterback Matthew Stafford more responsibilities in the team's offense sooner than he did with New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, team writer Tim Twentyman reports.

In Lombardi's first season with the team, Stafford completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 4,257 yards, 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Before joining the Lions, Lombardi was the Saints' quarterback coach, helping Drew Brees lead the league in passing yards and touchdowns multiple times.

While Stafford's statistics were significantly lower than Brees', Lombardi said Stafford had duties that Brees was not given until he spent four years in the team's system.

• Lions coach Jim Caldwell: Expand replay for playoffs, big games

“Just play changes, protection issues, identification of linebackers in order for the offensive line to set their blocking scheme off of, the running game, on third down the quarterback is responsible for setting the protections based on the defensive looks so we can pick up the blitzes that they bring, it’s pretty extensive and it’s not easy to do,” Lombardi said.

“He was excellent. He’s smart and he studies hard, works hard. He is so smart that sometimes he seems like he is very casual about things because it comes easy for him. Where other guys are taking copious notes and he’s like, ‘I got it.' So he is taking it very seriously, but he’s just got a relaxed way about him that sometimes it comes across that he is a little bit casual but he takes it very seriously.”

In 2014, Stafford led the Lions to the playoffs for the second time in his career. They lost in the Wild Card round to the Dallas Cowboys in a game marked by bizarre officiating, particularly after an official threw a flag for pass interference and subsequently picked it up.

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