The first big quarterback move of the NFL offseason came when the Los Angeles Rams sent Jared Goff and draft picks to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford. After 12 mostly rough seasons in Detroit, Stafford is entering a better situation in Los Angeles with an eye on reaching some firsts in his career.
Stafford is under contract through 2022, but this past week Rams’ general manager Les Snead said he sees a longer future with the former No. 1 overall pick under center. Via Jordan Rodrigue of The Athletic (h/t to NFL.com):
I don’t think we did it thinking two years,” Snead said. “Based on (Stafford’s) age, you can legitimately think five to seven, eight years if you look at what Drew (Brees) has done. I don’t feel like we’re going to get into Tom Brady, right? With quarterbacks of his pedigree, a lot of those guys have played, right, into their late 30s, for sure. So that was definitely the vision with (Stafford).”
Shifting focus back to 2021, here are three super early bold predictions for Stafford in his first year as the Rams’ quarterback.
3. A Career-Low For Pass Attempts
Stafford is the active leader in pass attempts per game (37.7; second all-time). In nine of 12 seasons he has been top-10 in the league in pass attempts per game. One of the three exceptions was a season he played just three games (2010).
The Rams had the league’s No. 1 defense last year, in both scoring and yardage. Their ideal offensive formula when Goff was the quarterback centered on a strong running game. The outlier came in 2019, when he led the league in pass attempts. Stafford should open up the offense some, but he shouldn’t have to air it as much as he did in Detroit.
By any measure, raw total and likely per game, Stafford is lined up for a career-low in pass attempts.
2. Multiple Playoff Wins
Stafford has only made the playoffs three times in his career, with a loss each time. He topped 300 yards through the air in two of those games, as the Lions’ defense allowed 45, 24 and 26 points.
The Rams will have to navigate a tough NFC West, and a tough NFC. But they have the talent to make a playoff run, and Stafford will get his first career playoff wins in 2021.
1. A Career-Best Passer Rating
Stafford was on pace for one of his best seasons, if not his best season, in 2019 before a back injury cost him the second half. He posted the best passer rating of his career that year (106.0), and that’s also a top-50 single-season passer rating in NFL history.
Goff had a passer rating of 100 or better in his two best seasons with the Rams (2017 and 2018), before falling to 90.0 or below each of the last two seasons. Stafford has had a passer rating above 90.0 all but one season since 2015, and the one where he didn’t reach that threshold was just shy (89.9 in 2018). Stafford is in line for the most efficient season if his career in 2021, and his passer rating will reflect it.