Jose Juarez/Associated Press
It's fitting that everything ends this season—just as it began—with Matthew Stafford.
Detroit's signal-caller faced intense scrutiny and calls for his job, with trade speculation flying and heated discussions about his contract playing out on Twitter, message boards and in bar rooms freshly spoiled by another lackluster Lions loss.
That narrative, however, has been flipped on it's head since the bye week. Coincidentally, that marked the first time that new offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter had an entire week to prepare his quarterback. The difference was palpable.
The dramatic shift in production and efficiency is mostly due to a scheme that has been molded to its quarterback instead of the other way around. He's more comfortable at the line of scrimmage, as evidenced by him constantly barking out pre-snap calls. Plus, the running game has improved. Five of Detroit's six 100-yard days were in this time span.
Lastly, he and his receivers have been on the same page. That wasn't the case all the time under former offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and can be credited to Cooter making things simpler.
The debate regarding Stafford's future has been resolved for now. Surely, there will be some who will always pine after what could have been (where art thou, Kellen Moore?), but the Lions can win with Stafford. And that's the only criteria the franchise should be considering.
All advanced stats, grades and positional rankings are courtesy of Pro Football Focus. All contract and salary cap numbers are sourced from Spotrac.
Brandon Alisoglu is a Detroit Lions Featured Columnist. He also co-hosts a Lions-centric podcast, Lions Central Radio. Yell at him on Twitter @BrandonAlisoglu.