Joe Lombardi denies criticizing Matthew Stafford’s intelligence

Last Thursday, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi claimed Matthew Stafford was unable to pick up his offensive scheme and that it had to be simplified when new OC Jim Bob Cooter took over.

One week later, Justin Rogers of MLive had the opportunity to speak to Lombardi about Rapoport’s report and the Lions former offensive coordinator denied making the negative comments about Stafford.

“No truth to that,” Lombardi told MLive.com on Thursday. “Listen, Matt is super smart. We didn’t really hold anything back, at all. We asked a lot of him and if there’s anything I can say about Matt, he’s a lot smarter than you might think. He kind of presents himself in that casual way, but he’s a serious football guy.

“That was a big fear leaving a guy like Drew Brees was getting a guy who couldn’t handle some of things that you ask a quarterback to do,” Lombardi said. “(Stafford) could handle it.”

Lombardi then made sure to point out that he was in no way saying that Stafford could do everything that Brees could.

“I’m not claiming that Matthew Stafford is the same guy,” Lombardi said. “He’s just as smart, but Drew could just sense things, even things that none of us on the coaching staff could sense. I’m not saying Matt had all of that, but as far as learning the offense, learning what we wanted him to do, learning how to identify defenses, learning where to send the offensive line — it was an involved process — he was excellent at it.”

The former Lions offensive coordinator also said it is possible that Cooter has reduced what Stafford needs to know, but it in no way is it a reflection of the quarterback’s intelligence.

“If they are simplifying things, this is why — not every quarterback likes to do all that,” Lombardi said. “Mark Brunell, in New Orleans, had no problem doing it, he just didn’t really like to do it. He would rather play a little faster, not solve every problem pre-snap. I don’t know whether Matt enjoyed it or not, but he could do it without any problem.”

On Thursday night, Ian Rapoport had the following discussion on his Twitter account regarding Stafford.

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What do you think Nation, who is telling the truth, Lombardi or Rapoport?

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