The NFL offseason has only just started and the quarterback landscape is already causing drama. Derek Carr has left Las Vegas to go to the New Orleans Saints while Geno Smith and Daniel Jones have each signed big contract extensions. That doesn’t even mention Aaron Rodgers potentially leaving the NFC and the Green Bay Packers for the New York Jets.
With the rumors surrounding Rodgers leaving the Packers, it has left the quarterback landscape in the NFC even more depleted than it already was. On Wednesday, Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd ranked the top-8 quarterbacks in the NFC and at the top had the Rams’ Matthew Stafford.
Here’s what Cowherd had to say,
“Matthew Stafford number one high school quarterback, number one college quarterback at Georgia, number one draft pick. The year they won the Super Bowl he threw for 6000 yards and 50 touchdowns. He’s an elite talent. He’s getting old and he’s getting banged up, but nobody doubts the no-look throws, big-time A++ arm. When the Rams gave him protection, he was a matching. (He) out-dueled Joe Burrow in the Super Bowl. He’s number one.”
As the full list, Cowherd had:
- Matthew Stafford
- Jalen Hurts
- Jared Goff
- Kyler Murray
- Dak Prescott
- Derek Carr
- Kirk Cousins
- Geno Smith
Cowherd’s list is far from perfect. Kyler Murray at four is a little high and Kirk Cousins should probably be ahead of Carr. Smith at eight is also a little low after the season he just had. With all of that being said, let’s focus on the important part with Stafford at number one.
In two years of Stafford with the Rams, we’ve seen two polar opposites of the spectrum. In 2021, Stafford had the best protection in the NFL and looked like a top three to five quarterback. However, last season the protection was the worst in the NFL and therefore Stafford ranked in the bottom 10-12 in many categories.
The question is, what does Stafford look like in the Rams offense when you get something in the middle? There is no denying Stafford’s overall talent, but he did spend much of last season hurt and his elbow injury coming into the season was likely worse than the team made it out to be.
Coming off of an MVP-caliber season, Jalen Hurts is probably the best quarterback in the NFC. The Philadelphia Eagles had one of the best offenses under Hurts last season and if they beat the Chiefs, he’s likely the Super Bowl MVP.
The overall point however is that the NFC is wide open with overall quarterback landscape. This isn’t the AFC with Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Trevor Lawrence, etc. A team with a mid-level quarterback in that conference doesn’t stand a chance. You can’t say the same in the NFC. The Detroit Lions with Jared Goff could be a serious threat next year.
That’s what makes part of the “remodel” or “rebuild” that the Rams are doing with Leonard Floyd and Jalen Ramsey somewhat frustrating. The NFC is there for the taking. If the Rams are taking a year to make a run in 2024, it may be too late at that point. The NFL is so unpredictable that the landscape could change significantly by that point.
With Stafford playing at a high-level, the Rams will always have a chance. The potential is there for him to be the best quarterback in the NFC. However, will the Rams be able to keep him upright and healthy long enough so that they can make another run when they’re ready?