Rams’ Matthew Stafford stats: 3 differences between this year and last

The NFL has had an interesting trend with completion percentage over the past few decades, as the league continues to look for ways to make passing offenses look more successful for an audience hungry for touchdowns and big plays. . There is arguably no more exciting moment in football than capturing the highlights for a meaningful win.

Just as we saw in Mahomes vs. Allen, Stafford vs. Brady, Burrow vs. Mahomes, and Stafford vs. Burrow in the playoffs last year, quarterbacks are driving interest in the sport. Getting Josh Allen and Matthew Stafford on stage for Game 1 was a big deal for the NFL. Week 1’s Sunday Night Football featured Tom Brady and Dak Prescott, while Monday Night Football had Russell Wilson take on his former team.

Even interest in following the NFL Draft could be based on top-rated quarterbacks, as 2022 saw a huge drop in ratings after speculation waned that it could be a strong class. . That wasn’t the case, only one quarterback was chosen from the top 80 picks and fewer people watched than any year since 2017.

One way to potentially curb this waning interest on game day is to create high percentage passing opportunities for your quarterback. Think of it like asking a batter in baseball to only try singles and stop at first base, even though it looks like he might stretch it to doubles. And rare is the home run.

This is why completion percentage alone does not help predict whether a quarterback is good or not. Statistics need context and perhaps more than any other statistic needs context.

For example, Geno Smith leads the NFL in completion percentage for three weeks…by a lot.

Smith’s 77.5 percent completion rate is the fifth-highest in NFL history in a team’s first three games and is five percentage points better than second-place finisher Matthew Stafford.

Stafford has completed at least 70% of his attempts in all three games and his 72.5% overall completion rate ranks second in the NFL between Geno Smith and Aaron Rodgers. It’s not a sandwich I was expecting to eat.

The context needed to add to the completion percentage is rooted in a closer look at the numbers, as well as historical evidence on their resumes.

The CV part, I think you understand. What about other stats?

It’s important to go back to Smith being fifth all-time in three-game completion percentage: also in the top 30 are Chad Pennington, Alex Smith, Teddy Bridgewater (twice), Gardner Minshew (twice), Colt McCoy and Tyrod Taylor. Now take the 107 examples of quarterbacks making at least 70% of their passes in three games and sort them by adjusted net yards/pass attempt and see what you get:

Mahomes, Brady, Brady, Manning and Stafford (last season) are in the top five. The only odd ducks in the top 30 are Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chris Chandler and Lynn Dickey at 30. Jared Goff shows up three times, which brings us back to Sean McVay and Matthew Stafford.

In 2021, Stafford matched his career high with a 67.5% completion rate, a figure he also achieved in 2015 with the Detroit Lions. However, Stafford’s 2021 season also included nine additional touchdowns (in one extra game), a 0.9 Y/A higher than 2015, and even though he led the league in interceptions, the rate interceptions per throw was comparable to the last time he completed 67.5% of his pass attempts.

Stafford threw the ball deeper on average, and much like Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate in 2015, he was associated with exceptional receiving talent. Los Angeles’ completion rate last season was even higher than when he did in 2015 because the offense was more successful on average. by achievement.

Last year, Stafford got off to an incredible start throwing nine touchdowns and just one interception in his first three games. In fact, the difference can be summed up in three things:

1 – Week 1 Interceptions

If not for being picked three times against the Bills, Stafford’s season would already be very comparable to his 2021 campaign. No quarterback should be so heavily defined by 3% of his total pass attempts. If so, how would people feel after Stafford threw seven interceptions in the last three games before the playoffs last year?

It didn’t go badly.

2 – The seven bags taken in week 1

Stafford has been sacked seven times by the Bills. He has been sacked once each in the last two games. In the regular season, the Rams were 3-4 when Stafford was sacked at least twice. Remarkably, he’s been sacked exactly twice in the last three playoff games.

I don’t see sacks as a problem for Stafford or the Rams offensive line. If week 1 was a fluke, what’s the problem?

3 – Planned airyards/attempts are down

This is where things get weird. Stafford averaged 8.5 projected aerial yards per attempt in 2021 and over 21 games, including the playoffs, he’s exceeded 8.0 on 14 occasions.

In 2022, his iay/a is 5.8 in week 1, 6.9 in week 2 and 8.6 in week 3.

The 5.8 would have been his second-lowest of last season (he was 5.1 in the loss to the Titans), the 6.9 would have been his third-lowest (tied with the 20-19 win against the Ravens), and the 8.6 would only rank as his 11th best.

When Stafford was able to air it last year, the Rams were able to score more points. That’s one of the reasons why LA is so prime time these days.

The Rams aren’t streaming it as much in 2022 and the score is down. From 27.1 PPG last season to 20.3 PPG in 2022. This is a small sample. However, there was only one three-game streak in Stafford’s first season with LA in which the Rams scored fewer points and that was the three-game losing streak.

I’m not saying it’s anything more than a coincidence, but they were also the three games that saw Van Jefferson get the most playing time and the most targets of his career. It almost has to be a coincidence because Jefferson has yet to play this season, but that doesn’t necessarily give me confidence that Stafford will start throwing the ball downfield more when Jefferson returns from IR.

It was also during this losing streak that the Rams went from Robert Woods as number two receiver to Odell Beckham, Jr..

The Rams went on to win their next five games and nine of the next 10.

Fans love to watch football for countless reasons, but I think the quarterback game is the most popular answer. The ratings and media attention on quarterbacks are strong evidence supporting this premise. Stafford drew more attention to the Rams at a time when they were making their debut at their $5 billion stadium and his season stats under McVay reflected the decision to get an upgrade at quarterback.

McVay had already proven he was capable of designing an offense that would elevate a good quarterback slotted into it and Stafford brought a consistent record of being able to finish explosive plays with a deep passing offense.

The Rams won the Super Bowl and being able to complete explosive passing plays on the field in the fourth quarter proved invaluable to the mission.

So far this season, Stafford is 20th in expected aerial yards per attempt (up from sixth last year) and in fact his 6.9 ay/y rate is exactly on par with Geno Smith. On exactly the same number of passing attempts. But we have some historical context to explain why it’s safer to assume that Stafford and Smith will move in different directions over the course of the season.

Stafford last averaged 6.9 ay/y in 2018 and that year ended with one of the most forgettable seasons of his career. He’s got almost the same QBR right now as 2018, and almost the same touchdown rate, but he’s got 14 more games to improve on that and I guess he will.

Next are the 49ers and last season he was consistently between 8.3 and 8.7 passing yards/attempt in three games against San Francisco. Will it be in that range again, will it be higher or will it be lower? This is probably going to be more important to monitor than percentage complete.

But will require proper context.

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