Here we go! The regular season. Fans of the Buffalo Bills have been anxiously waiting for the 2022 season to start to get the sour taste of last season’s end out of our mouths. Let’s do our part to kick off the year with our first opponent preview of the season. I’ve already done an Aaron Donald dive and there’s no reason to think he’ll be all that less terrifying this year. So, let’s check in on Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams’ passing game.
By the Numbers
Let’s dive into a few metrics to see what kind of passing attack Matthew Stafford and the Rams had last season. There’s no guarantee they’ll be doing all the same things of course, but hey it’s only Week 1.
Matthew Stafford averaged 2.8 seconds from snap to pass last season. That’s thoroughly average, ranking 20 out of 38 qualifying passers last season. On the surface this sounds like the Bills should have a semi-easy time pressuring Stafford. Last season though, the Rams allowed a sack 5.11% of the time on passing plays. That ranked seventh best, which gets Los Angeles out of the average pack and into the good grouping according to my rule of four.
Another measure I like to look at for quarterbacks is intended air yards, which measures how far down the field the ball is thrown averaged across all passes. Stafford averaged 8.5 yards here, which was eighth highest in the league, suggesting Stafford likes to push the ball downfield.
The low sack percentage and high intended air yards worked well for the Rams last season. At 8.1 yards per passing attempt, LA was third in the league for this efficiency metric. Yards are fantastic, but did this translate to points?
The Rams averaged 27.1 points per game, tied for seventh in the league with the Cincinnati Bengals. Going more granular, they were also seventh in points per drive with 2.5. Though in that latter metric they weren’t tied with the Bengals who were 11th. Add it all up and the Rams were an efficient team moving the ball and coming away with points.
Next Gen Stats Charts
I’m just going to embed the one below, but to check out all of Matthew Stafford’s passing charts, click here.
Last season, Matthew Stafford struggled with a couple of zones behind the line of scrimmage but was otherwise very good as a passer. Some of this might change due to roster changes from last season, but Stafford has stuck around for over a decade for a reason.
This is pretty straightforward. Matthew Stafford has good protection. Odell Beckham Jr. has decent coverage on him. Stafford adds some touch to excellent ball placement and the result is a touchdown.
Stafford and Cooper Kupp show off some chemistry with Stafford starting his throw before Kupp comes open and trusts him to come open. The result is another touchdown.
More chemistry. More timing. More touchdowns.
Usually I try to scour a ton of tape and find some representative plays to show off what a player can and can’t do. With Matthew Stafford, we’ve all likely been watching him long enough to know a bit about that. The emphasis here is twofold. First, that Stafford can still get it done. Two, eyes on the prize. If you hadn’t noticed these are the three Matthew Stafford touchdown throws from the Super Bowl.