Matthew Stafford sees the field better than most quarterbacks. Having been in the NFL for 13 years, he’s seen every route combination and coverage scheme, so he has a great feel when it comes to finding an open target.
He also has a remarkable ability to hold defenders with his eyes and throw no-look passes. Already in five games with the Rams, he’s thrown quite a few of them, from screen passes to a deep dig last week to Robert Woods.
It’s not something many quarterbacks attempt, let alone complete at the rate that Stafford does. And when the Rams are watching film, they’re still not used to seeing those types of throws.
Offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell was asked Thursday if the team is used to seeing his no-look passes.
“No. We highlighted one this morning, Coach McVay did with the team and any chance I get, it’s always great when we’re in those team settings to even hear the defense’s reactions that maybe weren’t able to see it on game day,” O’Connell said. “You’ll maybe hear an “AD” (Aaron Donald) or “Bash” (Sebastian Joseph-Day) up front and say, “Whoa!” Like, they didn’t even notice he did it in the game, but it’s that next level of kind of ownership that Matthew’s shown that’s really helped us in the screen game, for sure.”
O’Connell pointed to a screen pass that Stafford threw last week in which he held the blitzing safety with his eyes by looking downfield before throwing a no-look pass to his receiver on the screen. It bought the Rams’ offensive line a half-second of time to get out on their blockers because it forced the defense to react a tick slower than it usually would to a screen pass.
“You can’t understate it and it’s something that’s really hard to it,” O’Connell said. “If you’re going to coach it, good luck. It’s more of the feel of a guy and the experience over the years of understanding where the landmarks are, where those throws are going to go and maybe not necessarily – he’s done it multiple times now – have to look at where he’s throwing. It’s not something you can coach. It’s not something you go out there on the field and say, ‘Hey guys, we’re going to ‘no-look’ these.” But when a guy shows the ownership of it to do that, it can take that stuff to the next level.”
Stafford has thrown no-look passes throughout his career, so it’s not something new that’s started with the Rams. But now his teammates and coaches in L.A. are getting a first-hand look at it and it’s hard not to be impressed – just as Rams fans are.
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