Coming from the Detroit Lions to the Los Angeles Rams, it was thought that Matthew Stafford would be entering a much better situation with a good supporting cast. With the Lions, Stafford didn’t have weapons outside of Calvin Johnson, his offensive line wasn’t good very often, his defense was rarely very good, and he never had a good running game.
In Stafford’s first season in Los Angeles he had the wide receivers with Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Van Jefferson, and Odell Beckham Jr. The Rams offensive line was also one of the best in the NFL last season. With Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, the Rams defense was also among the best. The result was Stafford having one of his best years as a pro and the Rams winning the Super Bowl.
That hasn't been the case in 2022 to say the least. The Rams started 12 different offensive line combinations in the first 12 games of the season. Kupp also got hurt and Allen Robinson didn’t live up to expectations. The running game led by Cam Akers was also historically bad to start the year.
Kevin Cole, previously of Pro Football Focus came up with a new measurable called “Adjusted Quarterback Efficiency”. Recently, normal expected points added or EPA has been one of the primary statistics recently when it comes to measuring quarterback play.
As Cole puts it,
EPA measures the value added by the entire offense on a play, yet in doing so assigns all the value to the quarterback....The quarterback, in and of himself, isn’t fully responsible for passing yards or touchdowns. Even plays seemingly in their control, like interceptions, are influenced by the performance of teammates and players on the other side of the field.
No statistic is perfect and EPA also has its flaws. Using Cole’s adjusted EPA for quarterbacks which accounts for drops, turnover worthy plays, fumble luck, strength of schedule, blocking quality, etc. Stafford has been one of the most negatively affected quarterbacks in 2022.
Matthew Stafford goes form -20 EPA this season to +27 with the adjustments. Poor INT luck, fumble luck, a porous OL and difficult SOS and combined to make his 2022 look much worse than it was pic.twitter.com/A8Q5wLSNxD— Kevin Cole (@KevinCole___) December 16, 2022
Accounting for things that are outside of Stafford’s control, the Rams quarterback went from a -20 EPA to +27 which is a difference of 47 points. This was by far the biggest adjustment for any quarterback this season.
While Stafford is still the 19th ranked quarterback in adjusted EPA, it shows that the Rams need to improve the situation around him this offseason. Stafford is still a good quarterback and can win games for the Rams. However, he also needs some help around him. Most quarterbacks wouldn’t have been able to succeed in Stafford’s situation this season.
The offensive line and injuries to skill players were extremely volatile, creating a very chaotic surrounding. The Rams need to draft or sign offensive line help and depth this offseason. Moving on from Robinson at wide receiver and making a move there will likely also be considered.
One of the reasons Stafford left Detroit was because they could never put together a good supporting cast around him. With a supporting cast last season, the Rams won the Super Bowl. If they want to compete at a high level once again in 2023, Les Snead and co. will need to improve the pieces around Stafford.