- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Jim Caldwell knew part of the reason he was hired as the Detroit Lions' head coach was because of his ability to work with quarterbacks and how he aided in Peyton Manning's development in Indianapolis.
Matthew Stafford's progress is part of the reason why Caldwell brought in a quarterback-minded offensive coordinator, Joe Lombardi, and a quarterbacks coach focused on fundamentals, Jim Bob Cooter.
All three coaches have worked with elite level quarterbacks. All three have reached at least one Super Bowl as a coach. All three will be focused, at least partially, on working with Stafford and sharpening his abilities.
Caldwell's familiarity with Cooter was part of why he chose to bring him in to work with Stafford as his dedicated quarterbacks coach. Cooter worked with Manning in Indianapolis and Denver.
"I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that obviously [Manning] had a great respect for [Cooter] but also the work that he had done.
"And I felt I needed a guy who had a real good sense of fundamentals, real good sense of how to put it all together."
Caldwell later clarified that hiring based on coaching fundamentals was important for all positions. None more so, though, than the quarterback because often the passer is under more pressure throughout a game than any other spot on the field.
As Cooter will work with Stafford, Caldwell also officially ceded away his play calling duties, something Lombardi first mentioned during his introductory news conference. When Caldwell was introduced as Detroit's head coach, he left open the possibility that he would call plays this season.
He confirmed Thursday that Lombardi will call them. It'll be up to Lombardi to make sure he calls plays that will reverse the regression Stafford showed during the second half of the 2013 season -- when he had 13 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and a completion percentage of 54.1 percent.
It is, after all, why Caldwell, Lombardi and Cooter were hired after Detroit fired Jim Schwartz on Dec. 30. The Lions put a premium focus on the position and all three spent times with quarterbacks considered elite. Not that Caldwell likes the term elite at all. He just wants to make sure he has a good quarterback and he believes he has one in Stafford.
"I've had an opportunity to look at him and here's my assessment of him, and I haven't found anyone that hadn't been able to correct any issues
that they had," Caldwell said. "First of all, we're always, each and every guy and he's one of those, is looking for ways to try to improve. He's hungry to improve. I've noticed that about him. He's eager. He's a willing worker, he's smart and he has tools.
"And when you find that combination, typically you're going to find a guy that does everything it takes to get him in position where he's a championship quarterback. Now, a lot of people want to talk about so many other things that really aren't that important.
"Whether or not he's elite or this or that. That doesn't matter. We want a championship quarterback is what we're looking for."