- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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Stafford has done everything he could this preseason to give confidence he will have a strong 2015 season. He looked sharp throughout the majority of training camp and continued his trend from last season of limiting big mistakes and bad interceptions.
Working with the premise that he won’t play this week against Buffalo, Stafford completed 19 of 25 passes for 308 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The bigger thing is his completion percentage: 76 percent.
That’s a 6 percent increase from the previous preseason, when he completed 21 of 30 passes for 204 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the preseason. Again, this is just the preseason, but it has been Stafford's best preseason showing since 2011, when he completed 75.8 percent of his passes (25-of-33) and threw for five touchdowns and no interceptions.
Although it might not be the best correlation, the 2011 season did turn into the best season of Stafford’s career.
Of course, Stafford has said he has matured as a quarterback since the sling-it-all-the-time days of 2011, when he threw for 5,038 yards, 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Stafford told me earlier this year that he thinks he manages games better and is “more responsible with the football" than in the 2011 season.
This is part of the influence of Lions coach Jim Caldwell, who stressed cutting mistakes last season. Stafford did that, and now the Lions are hoping they can increase some of the chances Stafford will take and turn them into smart decisions throwing downfield to Calvin Johnson or Golden Tate.
Stafford has been pretty on-point in games and practices this preseason. His next step will be carrying that over to the fall.