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Is Matthew Stafford better without Calvin Johnson?

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Are the Detroit Lions better off without Calvin Johnson?

Megatron was a seminal talent. A wide receiver with size and speed to beat any corner, any double team, any triple team. We're talking about a guy who did this, and this, and this, and had a few of these days. Johnson was the mismatch of all mismatches and the security blanket of all security blankets.

Yet, Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter believes having to work without Megatron has made Matthew Stafford a better quarterback.

"I think he's a growing and developing as a quarterback, so yes, I do think he's better than he was the last year, two years ago, three years ago," offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said, via MLive.com.

Who are we to argue with future president Jim Bob Cooter?

"He's really just trying to throw it to the open guy," Cooter said of Stafford. "It's as simple as that and it sounds overly simple, but it's a really big deal. When you have Calvin Johnson out there, one of the all-time great receivers, going to the Hall of Fame as soon as you can get him in there, it makes a lot of sense to try and throw that guy the ball. Sometimes you might override your read to do that.

"Sometimes it's easier for a quarterback -- you have your reads, you have your progressions, you have your thought processes, and you just go around throwing it to who gets open. He's doing a good job of doing that."

Stafford has been his best under Cooter. The eighth-year pro is on pace for a career high in completion percentage (68.0) and quarterback rating (99.6). Stafford has made quicker decisions in the pocket, but when he gets into sandlot-mode can sling it with the best.

It's impossible to know how Johnson would fit in Cooter's offense this season -- perhaps the combo of Coots and Calvin for a full season would have made Stafford even more efficient. The important note is that with his security blanket retired, Stafford has been freed. And his growth on the field is evident.

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