Tim Twentyman / The Detroit News
Allen Park— Instead of lamenting on the parts of the passing game that might not be as good with Drew Stanton under center, the Lions are choosing to focus on the parts that might be betterwith Stanton.
“Just his knowledge of what we’re going to do when he’s in there,” said offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who is in his second season with Stanton in the mix. “He knows I have a tendency to lean toward things I like and that he likes, so I’ll call the game and game plan for him.
“It puts him in a different comfort zone than you would have if you’re coming in for someone else. I think now in his second year in the system, I think he feels much more confident in knowing what he’s going to be called upon to execute, and I think that’s really going to help him.”
That execution is vital considering Stanton is facing one of the best defenses in the league Sunday in the Bears.
Chicago is No. 2 in points allowed (15.6), fourth in yards allowed (300.2) and second against the run (80.5).
“You have to try and make the most of the opportunities when they are presented,” Stanton said. “Unfortunately, Shaun (Hill) and Matt (Stafford) are unable to play. Now it’s my turn. Who knows how long this will be. I just have to make the most of it.”
Stanton, however, presents a different-type quarterback than Hill and Stafford.
The most mobile of all the Lions quarterbacks, you can expect the Lions to use more bootlegs and plays against the Bears that get Stanton out of the pocket and in more run-pass options.
Stanton is averaging 4.5 yards per rushing attempt during his two-plus years with the Lions.
“You treat him a little bit like No. 7 (Michael Vick) at Philly in terms of he can run,” Bears defensive coordinator and former Lions coach Rod Marinelli told the Chicago media Thursday. “Once he gets out of the pocket, his accuracy rate goes up.
“I have been very impressed because he is really developing as a pocket passer. You watch the New York Giants game, the second half, I mean he did a nice job, and we know what he can do with his legs. He can extend plays.”
Stanton finished that game 19 for 34 for 222 yards, one touchdown and one interception, filling in for the injured Hill.
The extension of plays Marinelli talked about, and Stanton’s ability to improvise and make a play out of nothing, is something the former Michigan State standout’s teammates see, too.
“You have to keep that clock going a little longer with Drew,” receiver Nate Burleson said. “Sometimes it’s not going to be your typical drop back, throw and catch. There might be times where he avoids the rush and changes the whole play.”
The biggest challenge for Stanton will be eliminating silly plays and turnovers.
In the only other start of his career — last season in San Francisco — Stanton threw three interceptions and was replaced in the second half by veteran Daunte Culpepper.
“I’ve seen all the different looks now, so the anticipation level is higher,” Stanton said of his development. “The answers come quicker now. I am reacting to coverage now as opposed to trying to diagnose what is going on and that is different.”
Stanton also should benefit from a week’s worth of first-team reps in practice.
“I see that look in his eye this week,” Linehan said. “He’s very determined.”