Lions using ladder cam to help Stafford

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- To help quarterback Matthew Stafford improve his future, the Detroit Lions are reaching back to the past. Kind of.

In order to really focus on the mechanics of the sixth-year quarterback, new coach Jim Caldwell has started to use what he calls a ladder cam during practices. The purpose of the camera is simple. It is essentially Stafford's camera. It focuses on what he sees and the movements he makes.

By doing this, the Lions are hoping they can drill into Stafford the footwork, throwing motion and mechanics they want him to use. It's an idea Caldwell started using back in 1982, when he had someone actually standing on a ladder to create the picture of what the quarterback was seeing down the middle of the field.

Nowadays, technology is a little more advanced than that.

"It's been quite inconspicuous until this time," Caldwell said. "Now it's big, it's got the conductor's stand on it. We've kind of developed it, progressed over the years, technology has improved.

"That's something that we use, just focus on the quarterback's fundamentals and techniques. It doesn't leave him but it gives you a real good view of what's happening in the middle of the defense."

The reasoning is the quarterback is typically looking down the middle of the field when reading coverages and making decisions about when and where to throw the ball. It gives a view into what the quarterback is seeing every play.

By doing this from a different angle than end zone film or a TV copy of film, it turns into a more specialized teaching tool for Stafford and the coaches.

"It's more so for confirming what you thought you saw," Stafford said. "Whether it's, hey, this was really good or I felt like I got stuck here or didn't get there. It's kind of like either, yeah, or maybe it was better than I thought or worse than I thought. It's just a good teaching tool."

It is not the first time Stafford has used something like this. The coaches at Highland Park High School in Texas used a rudimentary version of this, where the coaches had someone following him and the other quarterbacks everywhere during the offseason to get an idea of what they were seeing.

This, obviously, is a lot more advanced -- and Stafford joked could be another way for the NFL to bring in its fans.

"It's kind of a unique perspective," Stafford said. "Maybe the NFL will put it out with their 22 coaches tape. They'll get a ladder cam for the games, too, so fans can feel what we're reading on every play, too.

"But it's interesting. It's cool. It's good for a quarterback, quarterback coach to kind of go over. Just where your feet are, where your head is, where your eyes are, where the ball gets placed. All that, it's good."

Good enough, the Lions hope, to help Stafford correct some of the mistakes he has made in the past and make the conversion from a good quarterback to an elite one.