Where have all the Rams’ explosive plays gone?

According to Next Gen Stats, Stafford is averaging just 6.3 intended air yards per attempt. That means his passes are traveling an average of 6.3 yards down the field this season. That’s the seventh-lowest rate in the NFL.

For comparison, he averaged 8.5 intended air yards per throw last season, which was eighth-highest in the league. So he was throwing the ball downfield much more often last year than he has in 2022, and he was completing those throws at a high rate, too; he finished third in completed air yards (6.7) last year and is now sixth-lowest in the NFL this season (4.8).

His passing charts show that, too. He’s taken a few shots down the field, but not many. And when he does throw deep, it’s toward the sideline where his receivers don’t have much room to gain yards after the catch.

There’s a clear void in the deep-middle of the field where he’s not completing passes.

For him, it’s a “delicate balance” between throwing it deep and trying to create big plays by hitting receivers on short throws and allowing them to pick up yards after the catch.

“I think everybody sits there and goes, ‘OK, you got to throw it over the top.’ That’s not really the case,” he told reporters Wednesday. “You look at explosives around the league, watching the Baltimore game before our game and Lamar (Jackson) throws a slant and that thing goes for 80. He runs, it goes for 80. I’m not going anywhere 80 yards, but some of the other guys on our team are fast enough to do that. Sometimes it’s that and sometimes it is throwing the ball over the top. So it’s a delicate balance, but I think that’s just everybody doing their job as good as they possibly can. Then you just let those special instincts for those guys to keep running with the football, or whatever it is, take over.”

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