A lot is unknown about the Los Angeles Rams just days before their season opener against the Seattle Seahawks. One of the biggest unknowns is whether quarterback Matthew Stafford can return to form in the 2023 campaign.
Stafford was plagued by serious injuries last season which caused him to miss the final eight games. If he can stay reasonably healthy, LA’s QB1 is close to achieving some significant milestones at the quarterback position. Jeff Kerr at CBS Sports broke down milestones that can be reached by NFL players in ‘23 and Stafford is close to five notable career achievements.
“Needs 525 passing yards within his first nine games to surpass Peyton Manning (52,606) for the third-most ever by a player in his first 200 games, and needs 2,268 passing yards within his first nine games to surpass Matt Ryan (54,349) for second-most. Only Drew Brees (55,439) has more over a player’s first 200 NFL contests. Stafford has 52,082 passing yards in 191 career games.
Needs 4,942 passing yards to surpass Eli Manning (57,023) for the 10th-most in NFL history.
Needs 10 touchdown passes to surpass Fran Tarkenton (342) for the 11th-most in NFL history, and 34 to surpass Eli Manning (366) for 10th-most. Stafford has 333 career touchdown passes.”
Two of the five milestones Kerr mentions is attainable for the Rams signal caller. Last season, Stafford threw for 2,087 yards and 10 touchdown passes in nine appearances. Throwing for 10 TDs is very realistic for the veteran even with a tough opening slate to contend with.
Passing Matt Ryan for the second-most passing yards by a player through 200 games will be close. I just don’t see Stafford beating out Ryan in that category unless the young receivers catch on quicker than expected. Well, assuming those whippersnappers can look up from their cellular devices for a gosh darn second.
I also don’t envision Stafford tossing anywhere close to 34 touchdowns and 4,924 yards this year for the same reason I mentioned in the last sentence. During his first season in LA, Stafford had 4,886 passing yards which would put him 56 yards off Eli Manning for 10th all-time. The Rams QB had surpassed that mark from 2011-12 with the Detroit Lions. While it appears unlikely to happen in the upcoming campaign, my bet is that Matt breaks both marks with ease in 2024.
Regardless of what happens to Los Angeles this season, it’s pretty special to see Stafford approaching the top-10 in several top statistical passing categories. As someone who has a deep respect and appreciation for league history, watching him rewrite the record books has been a long time coming.
As a Matthew Stafford admirer long before he arrived in LA, he deserves his place alongside NFL legends even if his story isn’t finished just yet.