Why Matthew Stafford's picks are down

IRVING, Texas -- The natural assumption when a quarterback has gone from throwing 54 interceptions in his first 45 games to four in the first seven this season is that he has improved as a decision maker.

Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz will not go there with quarterback Matthew Stafford, the Highland Park native.

Instead, Schwartz made a good point about the circumstances of games that led to a lot of Stafford's interceptions. It is a similar refrain heard when Tony Romo would throw an interception.

This year the quarterbacks are playing more with the lead, and their interception totals are down. Stafford has completed 178 of 290 passes for 2,129 yards with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions with Detroit off to a 4-3 start. Romo has completed 181 of 265 passes for 2,010 yards with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions for the Cowboys, also 4-3.

"A lot of Matthew's interceptions last year came late in games when we were down a bunch," Schwartz said. "We didn't do a good enough job of supporting him. You saw some of those interceptions and things like that. His interceptions last year, I think, were only up one over our 2011 playoff year. So I wouldn't necessarily credit or put that on the fact that he's improved his decision making. Since the time he has come into the league he has had great command over what we want to do offensively and also what defenses do. But I think any quarterback, if you're behind in games, there's going to be more opportunities for you to make mistakes and things like that because you're trying to catch up in the game."