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Tom Brady broke a Matthew Stafford record in 2022 and that’s probably a good thing

Stafford can also move himself into an elusive group with a solid season

Rams Bucs in NFL Playoff Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Two years ago, Matthew Stafford was freed from his 12-year career with the Detroit Lions so that he could pursue a championship, and that’s what happened 12 months after the trade. The Los Angeles Rams took the risk of trading two first round picks and a third to swap out Jared Goff for Stafford, and though the second of those choices is the sixth overall choice in the draft, the move paid off for both sides.

Stafford proved the skeptics wrong and not only won his first career playoff game during the 2021 season, but also helped lead the Rams to the Super Bowl championship.

That’s a win-win.

The numbers have always been gaudy for Stafford, as he is just outside the top-10 in both career passing yards and passing touchdowns: 52,082 yards and 333 touchdowns. Stafford needs 4,941 passing yards next season in order to pass Eli Manning for 10th all-time in passing yardage, a number Stafford has eclipsed just twice in his lengthy playing career, although that was quite a long time ago.

Stafford threw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns in 2011, his third season in the NFL as the Lions went 10-6 and he made the playoffs for the first time. The next season, Stafford threw for 4,967 yards but the results were much less favorable. Stafford threw for less than half as many touchdowns (20) and had 17 interceptions with only a 59.8% completion percentage. Detroit dropped to 4-12.

Stafford also led the NFL in passing attempts in both season, with his 727 attempts in 2012 setting an NFL record until Tom Brady broke it with 733 attempts this past season. At age 45.

In his last six healthy seasons, Stafford has averaged about 580 attempts and 4,200 passing yards. The Rams would like Stafford to remain healthy after missing eight games in 2022, so we probably can’t expect him to get past Eli Manning on the all-time career passing yards list this season. He is signed for four more years, however, with two of those seasons being guaranteed.

While Stafford moving into the top-10 in passing yards next season is somewhat unlikely, moving up the touchdowns list is much more likely, although the top-10 is still going to take quite an effort. With 10 more touchdowns, Stafford will move past Vikings legend Fran Tarkenton for 11th all-time, and then it’s onto Eli again.

He will need 33 more touchdowns to tie Manning, 34 to pass him. Stafford did throw for 41 touchdowns in 2021, but that was only the second time (next to 2011) that he had more than 32 touchdowns. He has only had 30 touchdowns three times in his career.

If Stafford rebounds with an MVP-caliber season under new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, stays healthy, has a healthy offensive line, and a quality weapon next to Cooper Kupp all year long, anything is possible. He could reach the top-10 over a 17-game season.

For now, the 35-year-old quarterback can just focus on being available for OTAs.