With three games games left on the 2021 slate, Matthew Stafford has his plate full leading the Los Angeles Rams into battle with the Arizona Cardinals for the NFC West crown and a playoff opening home game.
But that shouldn’t deter fans from considering the prospect of him breaking most of the Rams key season passing records. Some of which go back to those heady days of Kurt Warner and “The Greatest Show on Turf”. One even goes back to Norm Van Brocklin in 1954.
Although 2021 is not Staff’s best statistical season in any individual category, he can have his best number in the most important category, wins. He has had only two seasons in his stellar career where his team has logged double-digit victories. You have to go back to 2014 to find the last one, where he logged an 11-5 record with the Detroit Lions. Stafford and the Rams currently have 10 wins, with winnable games versus the Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens, and San Francisco 49ers.
But this article is not about projecting how LA finishes out the season or even how about how they fare in the playoffs, it’s about celebrating Matthew Stafford and what could be, arguably, the best season performance by a quarterback, in Los Angeles Rams history.
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Some of the records will be broken because of the NFL’s decision to add a 17th game to the regular season. A lot of season records will be challenged because of the addition and many fans won't like it, but the truth is that the NFL has tweaked the schedule 13 times since 1935, and raised the number of games three times since 1957.
Rams Franchise Passing Records
Attempts- Jared Goff, 626 in 2019
This is a record that can be taken with a grain of salt. Ofttimes, an unbalanced offense forces a team into high passing attempts. Staff needs to toss 43 passes per game over the last three games to match Goff’s total. Setting a Rams record would not be near his personal best, he threw 727 times in 2012.
Completions- Jared Goff, 394 in 2019
By completing 58 more passes, Stafford pockets this benchmark. Barring injury, this one’s a done deal. His personal best of 435 in 2012 could fall as well, the Vikes, Rave’s and Niners all can be attacked through the air.
Completion percentage- Kurt Warner, 68.7 in 2001
In the Rams last three games, Stafford has been over 70%. Matching these numbers over the final stretch would move him from his current 67.6% past Warner and be a career best.
Passing yards- Kurt Warner 4830 in 2001
Another milestone within easy grasp. Presently sitting at 4142, if Staff can average 230 throwing yards over the last three, he will surpass Warner. Believe or not, Jared Goff has two of the best three season passing yardage totals.
Average passing yards per game- Kurt Warner, 311.7 in 2000
Stafford stands at 295.9 and his best single game total was 365 yards. It would take an average of 383 yards per game to best Warner. This record appears safe, for this year.
Touchdowns- Kurt Warner, 41 in 1999
This mark is firmly within Stafford’s grasp if he can keep to his current season average of 2.5 TD’s per game. When he breaks Warner’s record, he will also set a personal best.
Interceptions- Jared Goff, 7 in 2017
Obviously, this ship has sailed. Maybe next year.
Touchdown to interception ratio- Jared Goff, 4.0 in 2017
If Stafford can remain at his current 10 INT’s, and toss six more TD’s, he can overtake Goff. With Staff, there is not much doubt about him throwing for a half dozen more scores in the last three games. It’s whether or not he tries to force an issue and throw into coverage for an interception.
Yards per passing attempt- Norm Van Brocklin, 10.14 in 1950
No chance here for Stafford. But wow, talk about your vertical offense. Van Brocklin only completed 53.5% of his passes, but had Bob Boyd average 22.9 yards per reception, Elroy Hirsch 20.6, and Tom Fears 15.2.
Adjusted yards gained per pass attempt- Kurt Warner, 8.8 in 2000
Dead heat here, Stafford is at 8.8 as well. If Staff can avoid interceptions in the last three games, put his name atop another category.
Yards per completion- Kurt Warner, 14.6 in 2000
This one is out of reach. Stafford’s personal best was 12.5 in 2013. He’s currently at 12.3, so there is no realistic scenario for pushing Warner off the top spot.
Quarterback rating- Kurt Warner, 109.2 in 1999
Residing at 108.2, Staff has been pretty consistent, with only two bad games under 75.0. Admittedly, he was very bad in those games (both losses), but he’s been really rolling during the last three games (all wins) and should pass Warner in this category.
While its effectiveness is often questioned, the quarterback rating stat is widely quoted by news outlets and pundits. NFL rule changes as to how defensive secondaries can cover and how offensive lines can bock, as well as teams embracing the short passing concepts of the West Coast offense have given favor to QB’s playing since 2000.
Keeping eyes on the prize
At times this season, particularly early in games, Matthew Stafford and the Rams offense has sputtered. Lately, it seems that Sean McVay has re-energized Stafford and the offense by re-introducing his system concepts and not trying to rely on the big play. Stafford has responded by proving he can win by controlling the flow of the game as well as by breaking it open with the vertical passing attack.
If Staff can continue his success in LA’s revitalized offensive schemes he should not only help himself to the top of six Rams season passing totals categories, but if things fall his way, to the number one spot in three others. A very real possibility of nine season passing records, making it the best individual QB season in Los Angeles Rams history.
As fun as it is to debate stats, any individual numbers Matthew Stafford puts up will pale in comparison to the number of Rams wins in this final stretch of three games and the playoffs. LA will begin to realize their true return on investment in the Stafford/Goff deal starting this Sunday vs the Minnesota Vikings. The stats are certainly there.