Caldwell on Matthew Stafford: 'He's still our starter'

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was an unhinged disaster on Sunday, but his starting job is safe for now.

Coach Jim Caldwell met with reporters after Detroit's 42-17 loss to the Cardinals to announce that Stafford, benched midway through the third quarter, would be under center next Sunday against the Bears.

"It's like a pitcher not having a very good day," Caldwell said of his quarterback. "That pitcher comes out and the pitcher, obviously, he's still the starter. He's still our starter, so there will be no issues there. There is no quarterback controversy or anything of that nature."

Stafford was yanked after completing 20 of 32 passes for 188 yards with a touchdown and three killer interceptions. Backup Dan Orlovsky was far from a savior, throwing a touchdown and a pick of his own.

Caldwell pointed beyond the quarterback position to his entire winless team, calling Sunday's defeat "an extremely poor performance -- and that's an understatement," while saying: "It's unacceptable and it's my job to get it fixed."

It would have been a shock for Caldwell to bench Stafford. Prior to Sunday, the former first overall pick had taken every snap for the Lions since 2013, save for a pair of kneeldowns. Still, his lack of anticipation and poise against the blitz was at the core of Sunday's loss. Looking lost and apprehensive against Arizona's well-coached defense, Stafford's trio of interceptions buried a Lions offense that has failed to make the most of its talented parts under play-caller Joe Lombardi.

The second-year coordinator went out of his way to defend Stafford last week, but fans are tired of the excuses. This is a veteran quarterback still wedded to sloppy play, head-scratching throws and madness-inducing inconsistency. 

Shifting to Orlovsky would make little sense, but Detroit has options when it comes to Stafford's future: Although he signed a three-year extension worth $41.7 million in 2013, the team can wiggle out of that deal without owing another penny after this season.

Few quarterbacks are under more pressure to turn it around in a hurry.

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