Matthew Stafford is a doubt for the rest of the season with continuing concussion symptoms. The Los Angeles Rams are bottom of the NFC West with a 3-8 record. This season has looked like a washout for both the Rams and Stafford. This begs the question if last season's Super Bowl win was high for the quarterback and if he will be able to replicate it again.
Matthew Stafford is 34 and moving fast beyond the prime of his career. He moved to the Los Angeles Rams from the Detroit Lions primarily to be in a more competitive environment. The team last season was designed to win and they duly did. They had Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. as wide receivers. They had Aaron Donald and Von Miller on defense. Stafford was surrounded by all the pieces needed to win the Lombardi Trophy.
This season, discounting injuries, Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. have left the organization. Given their current predicament, the road looks downhill for the Los Angeles Rams from here. This is not good news for Matthew Stafford if his aim is to become a multiple Super Bowl winner.
Declining stats for Matthew Stafford
At his age, there is no guarantee that Matthew Stafford can elevate people around him the way he used to with the Detroit Lions. He is more dependent on having a good team around him and that is the reason he moved to Los Angeles.
Stafford is known for his big passing plays. He stands just behind legendary Drew Brees for yards per game in the history of the league, ahead of luminaries like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. But his stats this season show a marked decrease in his output.
He has played nine games this season and has only 2,087 yards in passing. In comparison, he played eight games with the Detroit Lions in 2019 and had 2,499 yards. His yards per attempt is down to 6.9. This is down from 8.1 last season. Considering the years in which he has played at least 8 games, this is the second-lowest in his career, with the lowest being 6.8 in 2012 and 2018.
It is too early to know if, at his age, this is the beginning of a sustained decline or an aberration that will be corrected once the entire team is back healthy. Many elite quarterbacks have never been able to reverse such a trend. Peyton Manning was the NFL MVP in 2013 and had 8.3 yards per passing attempt. But it fell the following season down to 7.9, before dropping to 6.8 in his final year following which he retired. Whether Stafford can buck such a trend and pull out of a tailspin is unknown.
Another factor that will weigh heavily is his passing touchdown count. Stafford has only 10 passing touchdowns and eight interceptions this season. He has never had less than 20 passing touchdowns in any full season. However, this season he has played more than half the games and has half that threshold. This points to him having his least productive year in terms of passing touchdowns.
Such parameters, coupled with Matthew Stafford's age, are enough to make one question if we are seeing a terminal decline. His personal struggles are of course amplified by not having his support cast playing the way they are supposed to be. Peyton Manning was atrocious in his final year, but the team around him was good enough to win the Super Bowl. That is not a luxury that Matthew Stafford seems to have based on the evidence of this season. With the Rams having mortgaged future draft picks on his trade, future seasons are not projected to be much better.
For Stafford, who would have wanted to win more than one Super Bowl after moving to Los Angeles, the window seems to be closing for that possibility. Unless they build a team as strong as last year and the quarterback can prove he can reverse the trend, he might go down as a single-time Super Bowl winner. That said, though, it does not sound half bad either.
Poll : Who is your MVP pick for Super Bowl LVII?