You Down with JBC?
Welcome back to another weekly dose of hope! I feel a little remiss in waiting this long to highlight a guy who has received praise from a lot of players and execs around the league. The one and only, Jim Bob Cooter
The Dark Times
As early as week one, fans were calling for the head of Joe Lombardi. To be honest, I was on the other side of that fence. The last thing I wanted to see was a third Offensive Coordinator step in to “mold” or “fix” Stafford when the guy had only had one season to apply his scheme. Quarterbacks can be stunted if they are learning a new system every other year and it can cause them to never reach their full potential. What I didn’t understand at the time was that the Lions offense hated it. After about week four, I hated it too. I changed my mind quite quickly and hopped right on the “Fire Lombardi” train.
Not only was the blocking scheme far too complicated, especially for what is a very young offensive line, but the whole thing was based on timing and accuracy. As great as I Stafford is, those are not his best traits. Then throw in the fact that the different player packages and formations seemed to be letting the opposing defense know exactly what was coming and you end up with the complete mess that we witnessed through the first eight games of the season. By far, the most frustrating part of it all was that he absolutely refused to change a damn thing about it.
The Dawn of Jim Bob Cooter
The Lions opted to leave old Joe stateside and without a job when they took the flight to London. Whether that was Caldwell’s choice or ‘Mad Eye’ Martha giving him an ultimatum is unknown…to a point; but it was definitely the right choice and it should have been made sooner.
Even though London was a disaster, we couldn’t expect much with a week of preparation in a new offense with a new coach, Kansas City also turned out to be much more formidable than originally anticipated. There was a bye week, and then the impossible happened. The Lions came back, walked into Lambeau, and won. It wasn’t pretty and they didn’t score a lot of points but dammit, it happened. All of the sudden, the Lions were moving the ball and winning games. Linemen weren’t looking for someone to block every down. They knew where to go and who to hit.
Eventually we heard a different tone when the offense did radio spots or post-game interviews. They didn’t sound miserable and Stafford was excited to tell you all you wanted to know about Jim Bob Cooter; how they “see football the same way.”
Stafford is a quarterback that needs a few things around him to be successful. The top thing is a coordinator who trusts him. When the guy who is supposed to help you succeed is telling you not to take any chances and forcing you to play outside your skill set, it’s going to damage your ego and lower your confidence. I obviously don’t play in the NFL but ego and high confidence seem to be a pretty large part of success.
So not only was Jim Bob Cooter able to tinker with Lombardi’s offense well enough to drop 45 on the Eagles, he brought Matty back from the edge of a nosedive. The whole offense benefited from someone who could look at their skills and tailor plays that would allow them to put them to use. Lombardi always seemed like he was trying to trick a defense even if the package he sent out was playing at a lower level. “You didn’t think I would use our fourth string running back on the goal line, did ya?!” Sorry Joe, it doesn’t work. Bring on the Cooter!