Many would assume that a quarterback’s job would be much more difficult without his future Hall of Fame wide receiver. But, Matthew Stafford is doing just fine in his first full season without Calvin Johnson.
Stafford has thrown for 1,378 yards and 10 touchdowns in five games without “Megatron.” He’s even found a new favorite target, Marvin Jones, who has 27 receptions for 519 yards and three touchdowns in his first year with the Lions.
Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter has also noticed a change in Stafford’s approach. He went so far as to say that Stafford has been better off without Johnson, in a sense.
“He’s really just trying to throw it to the open guy. It’s as simple as that,” Cooter said, according to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. “It sounds overly simple, but it’s a really big deal. You know, when you have Calvin Johnson out there, one of the all-time great receivers, going to the Hall of Fame as soon as you can get him in there, it makes a lot of sense to try and throw that guy the ball. Sometimes you might override your read to do that.
“Sometimes it’s easier for a quarterback [when] you have your reads, you have your progressions, you have your thought processes and you just go around throwing it to who gets open. He’s doing a good job of doing that.”
Essentially, Stafford hasn’t been forcing passes to any of his receivers like he would when Johnson was on the field. It makes sense. You have to get your star receiver the ball as much as possible. While Stafford’s approach has changed, it’s important to mention that he isn’t throwing to anybody who is nearly as talented as Johnson was.