Matthew Stafford is a fascinating character in the history of the NFL. Time will tell how his legacy is regarded, and whether he’s truly received as one of the greatest of all time — but one thing that’s irrefutable is that Stafford is brilliant at helping receivers make history.
Now Puka Nacua is about to get the same rub.
With two games remaining in the regular season Nacua needs 147 receiving yards to break the NFL rookie receiving record of 1,473 yards set by Bill Groman of the Houston Oilers back in 1960. Getting 74 yards in each of the next two games is by no means a lock, but considering Nacua is averaging 88.4 yards-per-game it’s well within the realm of possibility. For a while the rookie record didn’t look like it was attainable for Nacua, but after his mammoth 9-catch, 164 yard night against the Saints on Thursday Night Football, it’s now a possibility.
Just two years ago Cooper Kupp broke a record with Stafford at quarterback, when he set the single-season league receiving record with 1,947 yards. The record he broke? Calvin Johnson’s in 2012 — which he set in Detroit with, that’s right, Matthew Stafford.
So what is it about Stafford that makes him such a brilliant quarterback at helping his receivers break records? We don’t have advanced stats for his time in Detroit, with many advanced metrics still in their infancy in football, but we can glean some information from his stats this season from the NFL.
It’s not so much that Stafford stands out in any one area, but rather than he’s a complete player in every area. There’s no major deficiency to his game that would hurt receiver production.
12th in the NFL in time to throw: This can be a negative statistic that indicates too much pressure, but in Stafford’s case it’s indicative of him quickly processing the field and making a read.
30th in aggressiveness: Stafford only throws into coverage on 12.9% of his passes. He rarely forces his receivers to make contested catches, instead putting them in a position to gain yards-after-catch, which naturally increases yardage.
4th in air-yard-differential: This is a big one, and one of Stafford’s standout stats. On paper it might seems like he’s not the most accurate quarterback with a completion of 62 percent on the year, but the differential shows that he’s almost always putting the ball where he intends it to be.
When you roll this into a package you have a player who isn’t padding stats for himself with a gaudy completion percentage or passer rating, but he’s constantly putting his receivers in a position to shine. Stafford makes his reads quickly, he’s decisive with the ball, but also doesn’t force desperate passes into coverage. So, instead of nickel and diming a defense, he’ll gain yards in chunks. This has been his modus operandi his entire career, but it’s shining right now.
Puka Nacua is the beneficiary this season, and he’s on pace to make history because of it.
Source : SBNation