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Matthew Stafford wanted Jim Caldwell to stay, had ‘good’ relationship with Matt Patricia

Matthew Stafford dished on some of his former coaches in a farewell interview.

NFL: SEP 18 Lions at Giants Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Earlier in the week, soon-to-be Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford had a farewell chat with Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press that went over his decision to ask for a trade, what Detroit means to him, and his future with in Los Angeles.

On Sunday, Albom published their conversation in whole, giving fans a couple little extra interesting points before Stafford leaves town.

Perhaps most notable were Stafford’s comments on his former head coaches. He praised Jim Schwartz as the guy who gave him and his career a chance in Detroit. As for his successor, Stafford said he was blown away by Jim Caldwell when the two sat down as part of the interview process. In fact, Stafford says he wish he could’ve played for Caldwell longer.

“I loved playing for him,” Stafford said. “I know that the Fords were trying to do the right thing they were trying to make the next step. They were shooting their shots to try and make us what they thought we should and could be. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out with really any of the coaches.”

Ultimately, the Lions fired Caldwell after back-to-back 9-7 seasons, hoping to take the next step. That’s when the Lions brought in former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. In his first season with Detroit, there were reports that his personality clashed with players, including Stafford. However, the veteran quarterback had nothing but positive things to say about Patricia.

“He and I had a good relationship, no matter what anybody wants to say,” Stafford said. “I could go into his office and talk to him, he could get me on the phone whenever he needed to. I think we both grew in that relationship. I have a lot of respect for him and who he is, as a football coach and an unbelievable mind.”

Even so, there was a report that Stafford asked specifically not to be traded to the New England Patriots, where Patricia will be reportedly returning in 2021 in an unspecified role. In typical Stafford fashion, he avoided talking about the accuracy of that report.

“What’s accurate is—and this is an incredible thing by (the Lions)—I asked to go to a team that was ready to win a championship,” Stafford said. “And, you know, there were a few teams on that list. There were a few teams that were not on that list. And they were respectful of that and understood completely. I had thoughts and reasons for each one of them.”

Stafford also revealed some of his favorite co-workers throughout the years with the Lions. In terms of favorite teammates, of course Calvin Johnson was the first player he named. He also listed Kyle Vanden Bosch, Dominic Raiola, Nate Burleson, and, of course, his closest teammate of 2020, Marvin Jones Jr.

“I really love him and his family,” Stafford said of Jones. “It’s been incredible to see him and his wife as parents and handle the loss that they’ve gone through. I’m blown away by their strength. I mean, Marv had his first kid when he was 18. And his kids are legitimately the best kids I’ve ever seen in my entire life. The most well-behaved, polite, worldly positive. No matter where he ends up, or where I end up, I will always pull for Marv and love him.”

There have already been rumors that Jones wants to reunite with Stafford in Los Angeles, as he and his family typically spend offseasons in their southern California home

The rest of Albom’s piece is worth a read, as it details some of the injuries Stafford has gone through, what his $1 million contribution to a new academic center in Detroit means to him, and some of the reaction he’s already gotten from fans.