How effective will LA Rams QB Matthew Stafford be in 2023?
By Bret Stuter
Even as the 2022 NFL season winds down, and the warm glow of winning Super Bowl LVI cool, there is a bit of uncertainty over the future and effectiveness of starting quarterback Matthew Stafford. He was better than the brochure in 2021. But more than one fan has questioned whether his 2022 struggles were just a result of offensive line injuries, or was he reaching back for his former arm strength that just . . . well, wasn’t there?
This is simply a legitimate question that has been posed by Rams fans in various ways. After all, Stafford entered the 2022 Rams training camp with his throwing arm immobilized, a result of a medical procedure loosely described as involving injection(s) into his throwing elbow due to pain and discomfort.
Stafford is the starter, and there is no reason to believe otherwise for 2023. His command over the Rams offense with a carousel of different receivers suiting up to catch passes each week for him in 2021 was very special. Perhaps, in the end, that is what it takes to win an NFL Championship after all?
Tougher to repeat those 2021 numbers than originally thought
But that was then, this is now. In 2021, the LA Rams enjoyed the benefits of veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford‘s ability to survey the field, read his progressions, and throw to the receiver. By season’s end, the Rams were overwhelmingly pleased with a quarterback who completed 67.2 percent of his passes, threw for 4,886 yards, 41 touchdowns, and only 17 interceptions.
It was a promising first season, one that gave plenty of reasons to believe that in his second season in this LA Rams offense, he could put up 5,000 yards, 48 touchdowns, and perhaps cut those interceptions to 14 or less. Well, that never happened.
But now the team is pivoting to the 2023 NFL season. Whatever ailed the Rams starting quarterback, he has had an additional three months of rest and recovery to heal. Based on my limited knowledge of elbow injuries, rest is the universal cure for almost anything related to sports ailments.
So now, we wait, and hope. And if you are so inclined, we pray. Will the Rams welcome back the version of Matthew Stafford who throws for nearly 5000 yards, 41 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions? Or will the Rams welcome back the version of Stafford who throws for 2000 yards, 10 touchdowns, and eight interceptions at the season’s midpoint?
That answer won’t be available for nearly a year. So for now? We wait.