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It's the small stuff: How Matthew Stafford's Cali trip could help him

From ESPN - August 13, 2017

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Matthew Stafford went to California and for the first time let someone other than his father or one of the coaches tinker with his game. He downplayed what Tom House and Adam Dedeaux did with him at 3DQB in California, but the objective was obvious.

He wanted to home in on small things in order to become a better quarterback, a process he called all-encompassing with what he does on the field and away from it. And he believes it helped.

It is the first time for me, ever, since John Stafford taught me how to throw a football, Stafford said last month. But yeah, when youre preparing, competing really against yourself to be as good as you can possibly be, why not give it everything youve got?

Find different people with different ideas, maybe, that can help you out. Just thought it was an opportunity and went for it and enjoyed it.

Some of what Stafford worked on in California came from a list he and Lions quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan devised when they met at the start of spring workouts. Each man came in with a list of things he noticed needed improvement last season.

If there were seven things on each list, Stafford and Callahan agreed on five of them, all of them small -- the minute differences only people who played the game or studied it extensively for years will notice. But for Stafford, who has made significant progress the past three seasons, they could be the difference between a passer who completes 65 percent of his throws and one who completes 69 percent of them.

Were talking body positioning, foot positioning, really, really specific stuff that I think very few people would notice just watching, Callahan said. I noticed it. He notices it. And its things that have helped him be more efficient overall.

Callahan and Stafford dissected where he put the ball on a throw to a receiver and how a 6-inch difference in ball placement could be the difference between a 6-yard gain and a 15-yard gain. Those 6 inches can make it an easier catch for the receiver so he can grab it in stride, or it can become a tighter catch instead of a contested one close to a defensive backs fingers. They looked at some of Stafford's throws where his chest wasnt opening up enough as he threw to his left. If he tweaked his motion a small amount, it allowed more openness and provided more velocity.

House and Dedeaux did not return messages to explain what they did with Stafford, but their website describes what they work on as strength training, mechanics and motion analysis, and mental management.

When someone looks at Stafford now, the QB wont look much different. Hes still the player who increased his accuracy under Jim Caldwell and Jim Bob Cooter and has taken steps toward becoming a top-10 quarterback. But he is a different quarterback in the tiniest of ways. Some of the more difficult throws now look smoother to the coaches. But all of the small changes had one goal in mind.

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