Lions' Eye in the Sky spies on Stafford's every move

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- All eyes are on quarterback Matthew Stafford these days at the Detroit Lions' offseason practices.

To assist coach Jim Caldwell, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter, the Lions installed an eye-in-the-sky camera that will track every one of Stafford's passes.

The "ladder cam," as Caldwell called it after Wednesday's mandatory minicamp, helps the coaches evaluate the technique of all the quarterbacks and is something he used since the early 1980s. The camera was on a ladder earlier this offseason, but now it hangs from a contraption during Lions practice.

"The big thing is that we can look at his mechanics -- every little detail of it," Caldwell said. "That's his camera, and what we do with that is just try to hone in and just try to perfect his craft."

Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, said his high school coaching staff would film his passes, but not from the same angle as this camera. In addition to taping the quarterbacks, the video shows what the quarterbacks see over the middle of the field.

"It's good for a quarterback and a quarterbacks coach to go over just where your feet are, where your head is, where your eyes are, where the ball gets places," Stafford said.

Thus far this offseason, the new staff is putting an emphasis on improving Stafford's footwork, a problem far more costly than his occasional sidearm throws.

In Lombardi's scheme, Stafford will have more autonomy than he had in recent years, which the quarterback is excited about. The Lions will have "kill" plays similar to the those of the New Orleans Saints, who employed Lombardi the past seven seasons, in which Stafford can choose between a couple of called plays.

"A lot of it's built in as far as the kills, the checks, all the alerts," Stafford said. "But there's some freedom for sure to change routes and do things like that.

"It's fun. It obviously kinds of gives you the chalk last, and that's what you're looking for when you play quarterback."

Caldwell said making pre-snap adjustments is part of the duties of the quarterback, and he will encourage Stafford to make the right calls on the field.

"He's done it before, he has a good understanding of it, and he even does some now," Caldwell said. "You may be able to call a play, but he's out there on the field. He can see it happening. He can see the defense, so there's some times we have some overriding checks and things of that nature that we'll utilize."

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