Analyst’s Take: Matthew Stafford’s Postseason Play Still a Question Mark

Former Detroit QB an upgrade, but has to prove it in the playoffs
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Brian Baldinger, an analyst for the NFL Network, believes Matthew Stafford is an upgrade over Jared Goff at the quarterback position for the Los Angeles Rams.

Stafford’s strong arm and downfield accuracy allows him to create more explosive plays in head coach Sean McVay’s offense.

“These guys with strong arms, it’s not like they are out there to show it off, but they feel they can thread the ball through the eye of a needle from 30 yards away,” Baldinger said. “They are just wired that way.”

While Stafford will assuredly make his plays and post big numbers during the regular season, there’s still a question about his postseason success, having gone 0-3 and never winning a playoff game during his 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions.

And for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, Baldinger says that’s something to watch for in the upcoming year.

“We don’t know what Matt’s going to be like if they get to the postseason,” Baldinger said. “Does he have big-game genes? You don’t know until they’re there. It’s a different level. I live in Philly and Donovan McNabb was a great regular-season quarterback, but not particularly great in the postseason and in the Super Bowl he was awful.

“So, you don’t know how these guys are going to play -- if they are going to play tight, or if they are going to play loose. You just don’t really know, and they’ve got to go through it.”

While how Stafford plays in the postseason remains to be season, he likely will take the easy check downs, unlike Goff failed to do at times as Baldinger points out in the video below.

While busy preparing for the upcoming NFL season, Baldinger also is working with CoachTube.com, a portal that provides coaching courses for a variety of sports.

Baldinger has several football coaching and evaluation videos on CoachTube, including an offensive line series with legendary coach Bob Wylie as well as several positional breakdowns as part of his football coaching course.

While his postseason play is a concern, Baldinger said Stafford has two things in Los Angeles he did not have in Detroit -- a top-ranked defense and a running game.

The ascension of Cam Akers with the Rams should help Stafford’s transition.

“They got back to running the football last year,” Baldinger said. “I think they found their back in Cam Akers. That’s a big part of it because the last thing Sean wants to do is throw the football every down, that’s for sure.

“It’s one thing that Stafford’s never really had. I don’t know how many 1,000-yard rushers he had in Detroit, maybe one or two? They’ve never really had a ground game. Nobody has gone through as many running backs in this league than Detroit has. They couldn’t keep them healthy, and when they did, they couldn’t keep them productive. So, I think that would be nice for Stafford to be able to hand the ball off, and then all the things they can do in play-action.”

With players like Jalen Ramsey, Aaron Donald, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Stafford, Baldinger says the Rams need frontline players to play at a high level for L.A. achieve Super Bowl aspirations and wind up in the big game at SoFi Stadium.

“They’re a star-studded team,” Baldinger said. “And Stafford is the newest star. And when you’re built like that, your stars must play big -- they have to have great seasons. Aaron Donald goes down in the playoff game early and they just fall apart. Your stars must show up in big games and all season long. That’s how your built.

“They went to the Super Bowl three years ago with a team with less talent than this. The division is tough. Everybody is going to kind of beat up on each other. We’ll see who comes out unscathed. But I think you might look at a division where nobody is under .500. It’s going to be a tough division. You get to the postseason, you’re going to see how these teams survive a 17-game schedule.

“Look, if they finish 11-6 or 12-5 -- something like that -- full speed ahead to SoFi Stadium and the Super Bowl.”