The Los Angeles Rams feature the defending Super Bowl winning quarterback this fall.
But even after tossing 41 touchdowns which matched a career-high, surpassing the 4,800-yard mark for the third time in his career and lastly, capping off his 2021 season with his first Vince Lombardi trophy, is Matthew Stafford finally considered a top five quarterback in the NFL?
Unfortunately, Stafford was plugged on the outside looking in of the top five by ESPN on Monday, July 11.
Explanation Behind the Ranking
ESPN senior NFL insider Jeremy Fowler conducted a poll with NFL executives, coaches, and players for their top 10 quarterback rankings for the 2022 season.
Stafford made good use of his new surroundings and much, much more — putting together astronomical stats and experiencing a postseason win for the first time in his career. Of course, the journey didn’t stop after the wildcard beatdown of the Arizona Cardinals as Stafford and the Rams ousted Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, held off Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers and ended by winning in climatic fashion over Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals.
However, despite the run Stafford had inside the “Rams House,” he still came in at No. 6 in the ESPN poll. Why? Fowler wrote this explanation:
“The one real issue with Stafford is he sometimes trusts his arm too much, resulting in careless turnovers. He tied Trevor Lawrence for the league lead with 17 interceptions, and his two interceptions in the Super Bowl were sloppy.”
Meanwhile, one AFC coordinator who was named unanimous by Fowler agreed that Stafford is reliant on the right arm he’s used throughout his football career. But adds how Stafford is a “better athlete” than what some make him out to be.
“He’s always had a great arm, always accurate, always moved well in the pocket, better athlete than you think,” an AFC coordinator told Fowler. “The physical stuff is in the better part of the league. Then you combine that with how smart he is; he’s seen it all now. He trusts his arm more than he should sometimes, but that’s being nitpicky.”
One Coordinator Impressed by a Particular Play Stafford Delivered
Of all the more than 400 passes Stafford completed during the regular season then the playoffs, it’s one that still resonates for several people that Stafford executed with the Lombardi title on the line.
It’s this no-look pass that kept the Rams’ drive alive late in Super Bowl 56:
And one unnamed NFL coordinator raved about that pass to Fowler, saying how special that pass was:
“A lot of those no-looks you see are on the move, out of the pocket; but this was in the pocket, looks like he’s going to throw the ball in the flat, throws it in the curl and the safety [Cincinnati’s Vonn Bell] was frozen. That ain’t coaching. That’s a special player making a special play.”
Ironically, the defeated quarterback in that Super Bowl Burrow placed ahead of Stafford at No. 5. The third-year quarterback’s grit, toughness and his comparison to Brady led to the Bengal getting ranked in front of the Rams’ QB1. Brady came in at No. 4 overall, then it went Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills at No. 3 and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 2.
And the No. 1 QB? Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers — with one NFC scout telling Fowler “He’s been the same guy and will continue to be; he’ll make those receivers better [without Davante Adams].”