7 crazy Matthew Stafford stats for Rams fans to know

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There’s been a changing of the guard at quarterback in Los Angeles, with Matthew Stafford set to take over for Jared Goff once the blockbuster trade from Saturday becomes official on March 17. Stafford was acquired by the Rams in exchange for Goff and three draft picks, ushering in a new era under coach Sean McVay.

Stafford will be 33 on Super Bowl Sunday and brings twice the experience Goff has accumulated, but that’s not the only area he has an edge over the Rams’ quarterback for the last five years.

Stafford is a prolific passer who puts up big numbers year after year. Looking beyond just his total stats, though, we can learn a lot about the Rams’ new QB.

Here are seven key stats for fans to know about Stafford.

Leads NFL in 4th-quarter comebacks since 2009

Stafford played on a lot of bad teams in Detroit, so he was constantly playing from behind. He often put the team on his back and led them to comeback victories. Since Stafford entered the NFL in 2009, he leads all quarterbacks with 31 fourth-quarter comebacks. He's fourth among active quarterbacks, trailing only Tom Brady (39), Drew Brees (36) and Ben Roethlisberger (35) – though all of them have played at least 68 more games than Stafford in their careers. Stafford's 38 game-winning drives are also fourth among all active quarterbacks and rank second since 2009, behind only Brees (39). So when the Lions needed to come from behind, Stafford often did a great job of lifting them to victory. Of his 74 career wins, 31 featured fourth-quarter comebacks – a staggering ratio.

Has finished top 10 in passing yards seven times

Stafford is a gunslinger in every sense of the word. He's a high-volume passer who racks up yards in bunches, doing so on a consistent basis. In 2017, he became just the second quarterback ever to throw for at least 4,000 yards in seven straight years. In his career, Stafford ranks 16th all-time with 45,109 passing yards, and he ranked in the top 10 of the NFL in that category in seven of his 12 seasons. In three of the years when he didn't finish in the top 10, he played 10 or fewer games, too, so it wasn't always a matter of him lacking production. If Stafford doesn't throw for at least 4,000 yards with the Rams in 2021, it'll be a stunner. He's more likely to top 5,000 yards than he is to come up short of 4,000.

Tied for 6th in intended air yards this season

Stafford isn't afraid to take chances down the field and he's not a quarterback who's going to dink-and-dunk his way toward the end zone. It only takes a quick glance at some advanced stats to realize he's going to bring an added level of aggressiveness to the Rams. According to Next Gen Stats, he averaged 9.0 intended air yards in 2020, which was tied for sixth-highest in the NFL – tied with Deshaun Watson and Baker Mayfield. Goff had the fourth-lowest average at 6.5 intended air yards. It was a similar story in 2019, too. Stafford averaged 10.7 intended air yards, leading the NFL in that category. Goff averaged 7.8 intended air yards in 2019, but that still ranked 13th-lowest in the league.

Had 2nd-highest passer rating under pressure in 2020

One major weakness of Goff was his play under pressure. He did not perform well when pass rushers caved in, leading to a high number of turnovers (17 in 2020). Stafford, on the other hand, was one of the best quarterbacks when pressured this season. According to Pro Football Focus, Stafford had the second-highest passer rating under pressure in 2020, coming in behind only Justin Herbert, surprisingly. The Rams' offensive line is solid but unspectacular, so Stafford's ability to succeed under pressure will be critical. https://twitter.com/PFF/status/1356263807178465281

Only had a 100-yard rusher in 11 of 166 games played

To say Stafford lacked support from the Lions running game during his 12-year career in Detroit would be a colossal understatement. In the 166 games he played, only 11 times did a Lions player rush for at least 100 yards. That's an atrocious number, but Stafford won't have to worry about that in Los Angeles. Since 2017 alone, which is when McVay was hired, the Rams have had 16 regular-season games with a 100-yard rusher. Todd Gurley had 12 of them, C.J. Anderson had two, and Darrell Henderson and Cam Akers had one each, both in 2020. Gurley isn't on the team anymore, but consider this: In 2017-2018, Gurley had more 100-yard games (12) than the Lions had from 2009-2020 (11). That's a mind-boggling stat.

Lions receivers lead NFL in drops since 2009

Not to harp on the issues surrounding Stafford in Detroit, but his wideouts didn't exactly have the surest of hands – outside of Calvin Johnson, of course. Since 2009, Lions receivers lead the NFL with 350 total drops. https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1353130408792248320 Every quarterback deals with receivers dropping passes, but Stafford has been hurt by drops more than most of his peers. In 2020, the Lions had the second-highest drop rate in the NFL (6.2%), according to Pro Football Reference, while the Rams only had the 17th-highest drop rate. So drops shouldn't continue to hinder Stafford in Los Angeles.

Completion rate above 64% in each of the last six seasons

There's a case to be made that Stafford is getting better with age, not worse. Since 2015, when his completion percentage jumped from 60.3 to 67.2, he hasn't had a single season with a completion rate below 64.2%. His six highest completion rates have all come in the last six seasons, showing a stark contrast from the first half of his career. In his first six years, he averaged 59.6% completions. In the last six seasons, he's averaged a 65.6% completion rate. Completion percentage doesn't tell the whole story for a quarterback, but Stafford has increased that number while still maintaining a high rate of deep passes attempted.

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