After silencing his doubters in 2021 with the Los Angeles Rams, Matthew Stafford has quickly been forgotten about following an injury-plagued season. At 35 years of age, some are questioning just how healthy he is entering 2023.
There are some concerns on whether or not Stafford can get back to playing at an elite level. It’s because of this, he’s consistently been ranked outside the top-15 in the media’s offseason quarterback rankings. However, as we saw in 2021, Stafford’s ceiling in the Sean McVay offense is elite. If he is healthy and the offensive line can protect him, there is a possibility that he can reach those heights once again.
NFL.com’s Adam Schein recently shared his top-nine dark horse candidates to win MVP in 2023. With +5000 odds, Stafford came in at number six. Here’s what Schein had to say,
“The Rams are going to be better than you think. 2022 was a humbling season, to say the least, with Los Angeles going from Super Bowl champion to 5-12 bottom-dweller. And it was a painful season for Stafford, who missed eight games due to injury. Now Stafford is healthy and fired up during this offseason program...A future Hall of Famer in my book, Stafford should still be ready to rock in his age-35 season. Especially with Cooper Kupp poised to bounce back from an injury-abbreviated season of his own. McVay’s an elite coach. He’ll have this team poised to rebound in a major way. When the Rams exceed expectations, Stafford will get a lot of earned love.”
It may seem crazy to insert Stafford into any MVP conversation heading into the 2023 season. In a league that is obsessed with the younger quarterbacks such as Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Trevor Lawrence, etc., it’s hard to see any other player receiving the award. For Stafford to win MVP, he would need to have a historic season at the quarterback position and even that might not be enough.
At the end of the day, Stafford may not be able to reach the same heights as a Mahomes at this stage in his career. Aaron Rodgers won the MVP at 37 and 38, but Stafford doesn't have the same mobility and athleticism that the former Green Bay Packers quarterback had. Even in one of the best seasons in his career, Stafford finished fourth in adjusted EPA per play in 2021.
Schein does bring up some good points. The Rams could be a lot better than people think. It’s possible that McVay gets his team to rebound. However, for Stafford to win the MVP, the Rams would probably need to be the top-seed in the NFC and have one of the best records in the entire NFL. That much seems very unlikely given the state of the current roster.
Could Stafford win the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award? It’s much more plausible for him to win that than MVP, especially if he helps get the Rams back into contention. While winning MVP would be nice and be a big boost to his Hall of Fame resume, it probably won’t happen for Stafford in 2023.