Will Matthew Stafford clean pocket struggles continue in 2021?

Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams have pulled out all of the stops to land a huge NFL veteran quarterback to lead the offense in 2021. For all intents and purposes, the fact that the LA Rams traded former quarterback Jared Goff and three valuable draft picks to the Detroit Lions for quarterback Matthew Stafford is a sign that the Rams are all in for 2021.

LA Rams head coach Sean McVay was clearly enamored with Stafford’s competitiveness, his cannon of an arm, and his ability to throw the football under pressure. But not everything is a golden path to the Wizard of Oz, folks. Some of Stafford’s total package includes some deficiencies as well.

And that needs to be talked about. After all, it’s irresponsible to talk about the guy as though he walks on water, only to be angered to discover that his feet get wet. After all, he’s human.  We’d already covered some of the attributes of Matthew Stafford that may disappoint some fans.  That’s intended to create realistic expectations.

I’m only human

Unfortunately, here is another human characteristic about the new quarterback:

Now keep in mind that completion rate is a statistic that measures the quality of the quarterback connecting to the receiver. The offensive playbook for the Detroit Lions was quite a bit different than that of the LA Rams. For starters, Stafford threw into much tighter windows, and the Lions receivers were expected to win contested balls.

Another qualifier is the reality that Stafford finished the season with a 64.2 percent completion rate. Assuming that the distribution of clean pocket to under pressure was even, that translates into Stafford connecting on over 70 percent of his passes when the heat is on.  There’s a silver lining there, folks.

Transitioning time

How is Stafford transitioning so far? Well, the initial feedback from the team has been very solid. But here is the report from the Rams training camp.

The Rams are deliberately not using Stafford in 11 on 11’s just yet, as he is only working with the receivers in one on one drills. That’s a decision from the coaching staff because they are feeding him bits about this offense is bite-sized bits.  Of course, there is a plan to make it all come together with plenty of time for the 2021 NFL season.

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Stafford offers plenty to get excited about, that’s certain. But he is as human as any quarterback in the NFL, which means that he too will toss errant throws, misread defenses, and cause some drives to stall. The team plans to emphasize his strengths and minimize his weaknesses.