The Los Angeles Rams gave up a haul to acquire Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions last year, but the trade paid off as the 34-year-old led the organization to a Super Bowl win in his first season.
Stafford enjoyed his best statistical season as he threw for a franchise-record 4,886 passing yards to go along with 41 touchdowns. He also had three straight game-winning drives in the postseason, including Super Bowl LVI against the Cincinnati Bengals.
With the 2022 season only two months away, a panel of experts at ESPN recently ranked the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL. Stafford placed sixth, behind Aaron Rodgers (No. 1), Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Tom Brady and Joe Burrow.
One NFL coordinator praised Stafford for his ability to throw no-look passes with ease, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com:
“A lot of those no-looks you see are on the move, out of the pocket; but this was in the pocket, looks like he’s going to throw the ball in the flat, throws it in the curl and the safety [Cincinnati’s Vonn Bell] was frozen,” an NFL coordinator said. “That ain’t coaching. That’s a special player making a special play.”
Another AFC coordinator was more critical of Stafford, saying he trusts his arm more than he should at times:
“He’s always had a great arm, always accurate, always moved well in the pocket, better athlete than you think,” an AFC coordinator said. “The physical stuff is in the better part of the league. Then you combine that with how smart he is; he’s seen it all now. He trusts his arm more than he should sometimes, but that’s being nitpicky.”
Along with his production on the field, Stafford has emerged as a leader in the Rams locker room. Brian Allen noted he re-signed with the team in free agency due to Stafford’s presence, and newcomers like Allen Robinson have already started building chemistry with the former No. 1 overall draft pick.
The Rams rewarded Stafford with a contract extension earlier this offseason that guarantees he will be with the team for at least five more years. He will reportedly earn $160 million over the span of the four-year contract extension.