Matthew Stafford is the best QB in the NFL on these two types of throws

It didn’t take Sean McVay very long to figure out Matthew Stafford’s strengths within the Rams offense last season. The two got off to a good start right away and despite Stafford leading the league in interceptions, it was a very successful first year together in Los Angeles.

One way McVay capitalized on Stafford’s skill set was with a ton of three-step drops. Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire ranked Stafford as the best quarterback in football on three-step drops, noting his 21 touchdowns and only four interceptions on such plays (110.1 passer rating).

Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, and Joe Burrow all had higher passer ratings than Stafford did with three-stop drops, but none of those quarterbacks were able to match Stafford’s impressive touchdown-to-interception ratio. Stafford as always had his reckless moments, but the three-step game seemed to bring out the best in him. Perhaps it’s that the longer Stafford has to drop back, the more time he has to get “creative,” both to his benefit and to his detriment.

That wasn’t the only type of throw Stafford excelled at. Farrar also selected Stafford as the best quarterback against the blitz last season. That was a well-known strength of Stafford’s, yet teams still continued to blitz him, and he routinely picked up the defense apart.

Against five or more pass-rushers last season, Stafford completed 112 of 151 passes for 1,398 yards, 724 air yards, 17 touchdowns, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 140.0. For context, Joe Burrow had the second-best rating against the blitz among quarterbacks blitzed at least 50 times last season at 123.8, and Russell Wilson finished third at 123.6. So, Stafford stood apart in this way in a very clear fashion in 2021.

Stafford has a knack for buying time with subtle moves in the pocket when blitzed, which allows him to find open receivers where defenders would otherwise have been when dropping into coverage. He can also throw from a number of different arm angles, making it easier to avoid rushers and still complete passes.

He almost welcomes the blitz, knowing how well he’s done to pick it apart in the past. The Rams can’t force defenses to send extra rushers, but they can take solace knowing their quarterback will be prepared when a blitzer does come after Stafford.

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