Why Stafford will improve in 2023
Any speculation for the future has some margin of error, and that is a fact regardless of the amount or sophistication used to project from a known into an unknown. But when examining Matthew Stafford and his career statistics, two things jump out at me.
When viewing his career Adjusted Passing numbers, it was clear that Stafford faced the most quarterback pressure of his career last season. That alone will trigger a lot of bad decisions by even the grittiest passers. But when combined with a higher than average tendency to throw interceptions, that spells trouble. In fact, if you throw out his rookie season, the past two seasons have been the worst for throwing interceptions in his career.
The past two seasons coincide with a Rams offense that, with Stafford under center, threw the football 959 times to just 641 runs. I don't believe that the Rams offense will continue to skew their play distribution this season.
Not a regression to the mean argument
This is not an argument dependent upon the statistical term of regression to the mean. That term asserts that if one sample is extreme, the next sample is more likely to reflect more characteristics of the mean. The reason we cannot apply that principle is that the universe, the data for 2023, is entirely different than 2022. The Rams play new teams, with new players, and against new opponents who also have new players.
Instead, consider what the LA Rams coaching staff witnessed in 2022. This team experienced a high number of injuries to their offensive linemen, the team did not run the ball very often or effectively with Stafford at quarterback, and Stafford had one of thew worst touchdown to interception ratios of his career.
So what are the Rams doing to fix that?
We can only connect the dots this year so far. But the Rams have invested significant resources into their offensive line, tight ends, and running backs while divesting from WR Allen Robinson. From a perspective of following the money, the Rams clearly intend to block better, run better, and perhaps reemphasize 12 personnel packages going forward.
We know that Matthew Stafford needs pocket protection, and not necessarily a ground-and-pound effort from their rushing offense. But It seems that the Rams, but leaning into those areas, are willing to do whatever it takes to keep Matthew Stafford upright and safer in the pocket this season.
Will it all make a difference this year? I think so. What are your thoughts?