Why Matthew Stafford's interception rate should decline in 2023

Los Angeles Rams Offseason Workout Matthew Stafford
Los Angeles Rams Offseason Workout Matthew Stafford / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages
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Los Angeles Rams Offseason Workout Matthew Stafford, Brett Rypien, Stetson Bennett / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages

Matt Stafford or Pad Stafford?

I noticed an article that was written five years ago, but whose relevance is still vital to understanding the role starting quarterback Matthew Stafford plays for the LA Rams offense. The article was written by Ryan Berger and was entitled Matt Stafford or Stat Padford. The premise of the article was to determine if, as many had accused Matthew Stafford in the past, Stafford's passing statistics were aided by supercharged passing in the meaningless period of games whose outcomes had already been decided on the scoreboard.

The author posed three questions that he intended to address in his article:

  • Does Stafford perform better in garbage time?
  • Do garbage time statistics inflate Stafford's overall passer rating?
  • Are Stafford's passing yards and touchdown totals made up of mostly garbage time stats?

So what were the answers? Not only did the article reflect no anomalous performance in garbage time, but the article showed that Stafford is most effective when the game is tied, is horrific on fourth downs, and that he is better by a material margin to other NFL quarterbacks.

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Finding the right balance

The last time that the LA Rams underperformed as a team was the 2019 NFL season. Similar to 2022, the 2019 season was marked with incessant injuries to the LA Rams offensive line, and a secondary that struggled to shut down opponent's passing attacks. What the LA Rams adopted in 2020 was a rather balanced offense,

2019 - 632 passes and 401 runs
2020 - 590 passes and 473 runs
2021 - 607 passes and 420 runs
2022 A - 352 passes and 221 runs (before Stafford benched)
2022 B - 179 passes and 190 runs (after Stafford benched)
2022 Totals - 531 passes and 411 runs

Even with a battered offensive line, the Rams passes over 61 percent of the team with Stafford under center. But in some games, that ratio was 80 percent or better. However else the LA Rams strategize their offensive playbook, one area that would help is a better detection of what is and is not effective in games, and a faster response to what other teams are doing on defense.