ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Matthew Stafford will make his 100th career start Sunday against Washington, and eight years after the Detroit Lions made him the No. 1 pick of the 2009 draft, Stafford might finally be developing into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Injury prone his first two seasons and inconsistent for several years after that, Stafford has played as well as anyone since Jim Bob Cooter took over as Lions offensive coordinator midway through last year.
In the last 15 games - Sunday will mark his 16th start under Cooter - Stafford has thrown for 4,044 yards with 34 touchdowns and six interceptions. He's completed 68.9 percent of his passes. And the Lions, thanks largely to his play, are 9-6 as a team.
Stafford said his success is due in part to the relationship he has with Cooter. The two see the game through the same lens, and that's helped the Lions become remarkably efficient on offense.
They've scored touchdowns on about 27 percent of their offensive possessions under Cooter and have been one of the best red-zone teams in the league.
"I think we do a good job of mixing it up," Stafford said. "I just feel comfortable, obviously, and have a bunch of really good playmakers around me as well, so that helps, always. But I just feel comfortable in it, understand what we're trying to get done, and going out there and executing."
If there's one area that Stafford has improved the most in the last 12 months it's his accuracy.
After hovering around a 60 percent completion percentage for his six NFL seasons, Stafford completed 67.2 percent of his throws last year and ranks second in completion percentage among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts this year at 68.9 percent.
Only Sam Bradford (70.4 percent) is completing a higher percent of his balls.
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said some of Stafford's improvements are part of the natural maturation of quarterbacks in the NFL.
"I think you've all heard me say this before, (it's) between years five and eight that you usually see some defining sort of a growth and consistent play start to develop during that time (in quarterbacks)," Caldwell said. "I think it's him. I think it's what he's doing in terms of his preparation, that he sets his goals very, very high each and every year to make sure he's improving in every area. So I'd have to attribute that to him and obviously the guys that worked with him do a good job with him, too."
Stafford said he's worked hard to become a more accurate passer, and said everything he's experienced over the past seven seasons - from injuries to two playoff appearances - has got him to this point as a quarterback.
"I'm my own worst critic," Stafford said. "If I wasn't completing a high enough percentage of balls for our coach, I was going to go out there and try to complete more of them. That's just a bunch of hard work. Then experiences, the more comfortable you are with what you're seeing and what you're looking at, the more comfortable you're going to play, the more accurate you can be as a passer."
--Anquan Boldin has been remarkably effective as the Lions' primary slot receiver this fall, despite turning 36 earlier this month.
Boldin is tied for the team lead with 29 receptions with Marvin Jones, his 244 yards receiving is third behind Jones (529) and Golden Tate (299), and he's actually played more snaps the last three weeks than Tate.
One of the Lions' best red-zone threats, Boldin passed Torry Holt for 15th place on the NFL's all-time receiving list in last week's win over the Los Angeles Rams, though he said he's not concerned about his spot in the rankings right now.
"The only numbers that matter to me are championships," Boldin said. "Catches, yards, all that stuff doesn't really matter because people forget that anyways, or somebody comes behind you and takes your spot. So that stuff that don't matter. One thing you can't take away is championships so that's what I'm focused on."