The Los Angeles Rams sit at 6-7 with an important four-game stretch ahead of them. If they take three of the next four games, Los Angeles will have a great chance at making the postseason. While the Rams have played better as of late, this is still a team with imperfections.
ESPN’s Aaron Schatz who focuses on analytics and is the founder of DVOA laid out concerning trends for each of the 14 teams on the bubble of the NFL Playoff Race. For the Rams, that concerning weakness was Matthew Stafford’s struggles against the blitz. Here’s what Schatz had to say,
“On pass plays without a blitz, Stafford is averaging 6.9 net yards per pass play with 39.3% offensive DVOA. On pass plays with a blitz, he is averaging 5.6 net yards per pass play with a 0.0% offensive DVOA. Now, this is not a problem Stafford has consistently had in the past. Last season, for example, he had the same DVOA with and without a blitz. And in 2021, Stafford was better against the blitz than he was against a standard four-man pass rush. So that points to a potential turnaround. The Rams’ remaining schedule has a mix of blitz rates. Their next two opponents — Washington and New Orleans — are closer to the NFL average in blitz rate. Wink Martindale’s Giants are near the top of the league in blitz rate on defense, while the 49ers (Week 18 opponent) are near the bottom.”
It would be interesting to see how much this has changed over the past few weeks when Stafford and the Rams offense has been among the league’s best. Not having Kyren Williams in pass protection certainly didn’t help as he missed four games while on injured reserve.
Against pressure, Stafford ranks 14th according to PFF. However, over the past four weeks, he is graded as the seventh best quarterback when facing pressure.
The matchup against the New York Giants will certainly be an interesting one as Wink Martindale is one of the more aggressive defensive coordinators in the NFL. That will be a must-win game, and as seen last week, the Giants do have the ability to pull off an upset.
As the Rams offense starts to find its groove, Stafford may return to his previous form against the blitz. That will only help Los Angeles as they try to make a run at the postseason.