At what point do we start getting worried about Matthew Stafford? He’s having inflammation and tendinitis issues with his elbow, to the point where he’s no longer throwing at practices.

This is a problem that’s been hanging around for the entire offseason. His elbow hasn’t been right, and I think it’s fair to wonder if it’s going to bother him to some degree during the regular season.

Stafford pushes the ball downfield more than other quarterbacks, making arm strength more important to him than to other quarterbacks. Those kind of throws put more strain on his arm.

He averaged 12.1 yards per completion last year, 3rd-most among regular starters. (Jimmy Garoppolo averaged a league-high 12.7 yards per attempt, but he got there via yards after catch rather than on longer throws – Stafford, Joe Burrow and Russell Wilson are the guys who are most apt to gun it downfield.)

PlayerPctYardsTDIntYd P C
Jimmy Garoppolo, S.F.68.3%3,810201212.7
Joe Burrow, Cin.70.4%4,611341412.6
Matthew Stafford, LAR67.2%4,886411712.1
Russell Wilson, Sea.64.8%3,11325612.0
Baker Mayfield, Cle.60.5%3,010171311.9
Jalen Hurts, Phil.61.3%3,14416911.9
Justin Fields, Chi.58.9%1,87071011.8
Lamar Jackson, Balt.64.4%2,882161311.7
Kyler Murray, Ariz.69.2%3,787241011.4
Kirk Cousins, Min.66.3%4,22133711.3
Justin Herbert, LAC65.9%5,014381511.3
Aaron Rodgers, G.B.68.9%4,11537411.2
Derek Carr, L.V.68.4%4,804231411.2
Patrick Mahomes, K.C.66.3%4,839371311.1
Carson Wentz, Ind.62.4%3,56327711.1
Tom Brady, T.B.67.5%5,316431211.0
Zach Wilson, NYJ55.6%2,33491111.0
Dak Prescott, Dall.68.8%4,449371010.9
Mac Jones, N.E.67.6%3,801221310.8
Josh Allen, Buff.63.3%4,407361510.8
Teddy Bridgewater, Den.66.9%3,05218710.7
Taylor Heinicke, Was.65.0%3,419201510.7
Matt Ryan, Atl.67.0%3,968201210.6
Daniel Jones, NYG64.3%2,42810710.5
Ryan Tannehill, Ten.67.2%3,734211410.5
Sam Darnold, Car.59.9%2,52791310.4
Trevor Lawrence, Jac.59.6%3,641121710.1
Davis Mills, Hou.66.8%2,664161010.1
Tua Tagovailoa, Mia.67.8%2,653161010.1
Jared Goff, Det.67.2%3,2451989.8
Ben Roethlisberger, Pitt.64.5%3,74022109.6

If the Rams have to play without Stafford for some games, the offense should slip. They’ve got John Wolford and Bryce Perkins backing him up, but neither looks capable of stepping in and delivering average passing numbers. When Wolford started a Week 18 game against Arizona in 2020, he completed 22 of 38 passes for 231 yards, with an interception and no touchdowns. He’s small (6-1, 200) and very much a modest backup.

Whatever you thought of Stafford previously, makes sense to move him down a few spots now.

—Ian Allan