Matthew Stafford's sidearm throwing action used to be a subject of scorn and ridicule that functioned as a fulcrum that helped pry loose all indictments of the No. 1 overall pick from faulty mechanics to questions about his commitment to winning.
But these days, with the Lions quarterback enjoying a renaissance under new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, he has been showered with praise from opposing coaches.
And when the 11-year veteran still slings a football sideways? Well, that too is met with adulation.
Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur has called Stafford "elite." Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer called Stafford "outstanding" while playing "maybe the best I've ever seen him."
This week, it was Chicago Bears Matt Nagy's turn.
"Well, I've always had the ultimate respect for Matt Stafford," Nagy said Wednesday in a conference call with Detroit reporters. "Some of the throws that he's made over his career are just ridiculous. I mean there are not many players in the NFL that can make the sidearm throws that he does on the run, running left throwing right, just putting it where no one else can get it."
Stafford, who is on pace for 4,998 yards and in the midst of an MVP-caliber season with 19 touchdowns with five interceptions, continues to downplay his penchant for unorthodox throws.
"Yeah, I think it's a lot of trust, obviously, trust in what I'm seeing, trust in what they're going to do when I put it out there," he said Wednesday. "Those guys are doing a great job of catching it and coming down with it. They always know to be on their toes and be ready for the ball."
Throughout his career, Stafford has always been more comfortable examining the ins and outs of success rather than his own statistics or idiosyncrasies. While the Lions have struggled as a team to a 3-4-1 start, Stafford has the offense and particularly the passing offense humming. The Lions rank fifth overall in total yardage and third in passing offense at 295.3 yards per game.
"I think we've done a nice job in the play-action game, making some big plays – those guys are making great plays down the field," he said of his receivers. "The guys up front are giving me time to get it down there. I think we've done a nice job on third down staying on the field, which helps. We're getting more plays and those guys on the outside are making great plays."