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Anonymous coach on Matthew Stafford: ‘Does he give a s*** at this stage of career?’

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford was ranked 10th at his position by The Athletic’s system

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Los Angeles Rams Offseason Workout Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

On Monday, The Athletic’s Mike Sando released his annual quarterback tiers, which polls 50 league insiders to place 30 veteran quarterbacks into four tiers. Those insiders included eight general managers, 10 head coaches, 15 coordinators, 10 executives, four quarterbacks coaches and three involved in coaching/analytics.

Last season following the Super Bowl win, L.A. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford finished in Tier 2 at number 7. This season, while he remained in Tier 2, he dropped three spots to number 10. According to Sando, Stafford’s 2.32 average vote was his worst since entering the 2016 season. He earned a single tier one vote, 32 tier two votes, and 17 tier three votes.

There are a plethora of question marks when it comes to Stafford heading into the 2023 season. Many rankings in the media have him outside of the top-20 among quarterbacks in the NFL. Between his age, health, and contract drama, it certainly hasn’t been a quiet offseason for the Rams quarterback.

From a pure talent perspective, it’s hard not to still put Stafford in the top-10 quarterbacks heading into 2023. With that said, he has concerns and the rankings putting him outside the top-20 aren’t necessarily off base. Here’s what one offensive coach had to say about Stafford,

“I don’t know if they can protect well enough for him. Does he really give a s— enough at this stage of his career to be disciplined, or is he just going to wing it when it gets a little tight, and just force balls because he can? Remember Philip Rivers at the end in (Los Angeles) when he threw 21 interceptions and just said f— it? That’s what I’m worried about.”

Throughout his career, Stafford has always had that gunslinger mentality. Stafford’s turnovers are less about not caring than they are about him simply trusting his ability to a fault at times. His 3.5 percent turnover-worthy play percentage was lower than 2021 and right around his career average. While that offensive coach had concerns about Stafford’s discipline, a defensive coordinator in the NFL wasn’t sure about his health going forward, saying,

“He still has the ability to go win a game in the 2-minute drill, regardless of the pieces around him. I just think his body is betraying him. You hear great things about his football IQ and just hope that will allow him to maintain, where if there is any more semblance of a run game, it will help him. He just can’t be a volume thrower at this point.”

It is fair to have concerns about Stafford’s health at this stage in his career. However, his issues aren’t about his body betraying him as much as it is the Rams protection. He still showed last year that he can fit the ball into tight windows and make the difficult throws. We’ll see very shortly if last year’s injuries had any negative effect on him.

A run game would certainly help him going forward and that’s an area in which the Rams offense must improve. That can be said about any aging quarterback. Saying that his body is betraying him might be a little bit of an overreaction at this stage.

The last anonymous source to give their take on Stafford was an NFL personnel director who said,

“If he doesn’t get hurt, he is still a top-level quarterback. I think he can still sling it around. The offense was not predicated on the run first even when they won the Super Bowl, so I think any time he is healthy and back there able to deal it, you can win because of him.”

This might be the most even-keeled response from the NFL insiders who commented on Stafford. Stafford’s success is dependent on staying healthy and that starts with the Rams’ ability to protect him. He’s still a quarterback that you can win because of in the NFL. That’s what most teams in the NFL want, even if it does come with some inconsistencies.

Another down year in 2023 and Stafford likely would fall below the Tier 2 ranking for the first time since Sando’s QB Tiers have taken place. Stafford still has Tier 1 upside, but it’s up to the Rams to give him the support that he needs in order to play up to that level.