Just about every starting quarterback in the NFL can make a throw to his primary target when standing in a clean pocket. What sets the best quarterbacks apart from the rest of the pack is their ability to succeed in difficult spots.
That’s an area of strength for Matthew Stafford in Sean McVay’s eyes. The coach studied Stafford before L.A. traded for him and came away impressed with the way he plays under pressure, when plays break down and when he has to go through his progressions.
That has held true during training camp thus far, too, with McVay raving about Stafford’s pocket awareness and feel for the pass rush.
“When you really study him, you see the intricacies of the quarterback position,” McVay told Peter King of NBC Sports. “He’s playing it at the highest level in the most difficult spots. You’re getting rushed. His ability to navigate the pocket, his movement, his feel for the rush, his ability to keep his eyes down the field. And then to exhaust your progression against that rush, that’s something in the NFL that a quarterback just has to do, and you see him progress to second, third, fourth, maybe even the fifth option, is real. It’s important.”
There are a lot of areas where Stafford seems like a better quarterback than Jared Goff, but their play under pressure is arguably the biggest difference. Stafford is excellent when plays break down, while Goff struggles mightily in that area.
Just look at how good Stafford was in that department last season.
Highest passer rating under pressure:
1. Justin Herbert – 99.4
2. Matthew Stafford – 91.8
3. Russell Wilson – 88.2
4. Deshaun Watson – 87.7 pic.twitter.com/A8fDn652rs
— PFF (@PFF) February 1, 2021
McVay can feel more comfortable calling plays that take longer to develop with Stafford under center because of his ability to move within the pocket, extend plays and avoid rushers. And Stafford seems like a great fit for McVay’s offense, too.
Stafford thinks it’s a scheme that fits most quarterbacks despite being so complex.
“I mean, it’s very complex,” Stafford told King. “At the same time, it all makes sense. There’s just quite a bit to it. I’m doing everything that I can to make sure that I’m diving into it and getting as comfortable as I can as quickly as I possibly can. As far as fitting me, I think it probably fits most quarterbacks to tell you the truth. It’s a really good offense. I’m excited to try to bring it to life.”
Only six more weeks until we finally see Stafford take the field with his new team in the regular season.
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