Should the Rams be worried about Matthew Stafford’s elbow? The Bills are about to tell us

Sean McVay says there are no limits to this. Matthew Stafford says there is no hesitation in this.

Those are the party lines for the Los Angeles Rams when it comes to their franchise quarterback’s throw elbow, which enters Thursday’s season opener against the Buffalo Bills. message? If Stafford needs to crank out another 741 pass attempts, like he did to repeat the Rams’ Super Bowl-winning campaign last season, then his elbow and his inside read tendinitis are ready to roll.

Allegedly.

As we begin the 2022 season, Stafford’s elbow throw is one of the biggest (and somehow cool) questions hanging over the league. Not just because they are the centerpiece of the defending champions, but also because the Rams have a legitimate chance to be a better team this season. For that to happen, Stafford would need to move on from last season, when he played through the later part of the schedule with enough elbow pain to require injections during the season, then a total shutdown until training camp, then a Limited throwing regiment in the past week.

After all that maintenance, we now get to see if Stafford is healthy enough to handle another slog toward 700 passing attempts. And you couldn’t get off to a more telling start than facing a billed offense that should make the game a boat race, the kind of high-scoring case that should put Stafford’s hand back on his playoff track when he averaged Passed 41. His last three postseason victories. And lest we forget against a defense that signed edge rusher von Miller in the off-season and would almost certainly lick something on Stafford’s throwing arm.

If there is a problem with this kind of game, it will become clear at some point. And if that’s not a problem, there should be a test on Thursday night that quiets down some of the questions. But as long as neither of them is against the bill, the simple truth is that no one knows how close Stafford is to 100 percent.

This is largely because Stafford did not have a typical offseason. He was excluded from team passing workouts, placed on pitch count in practice, and never took the field in a preseason game. All this raised the question whether his elbow pain has completely cured or not. As of this week, it sounds more like a vague “maybe” than a definite “yes.”

How Healthy Is Matthew Stafford’s Elbow? Buffalo Bills is about to tell us. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

“I feel good,” Stafford told reporters last week. “I’m ready to go. No limits. … I feel great. I’m ready to play. There can always be better. I can always try to feel like I’m 21 again I’ll keep trying. But no, I feel great. I think I can do every throw.”

If your team relies heavily on the 34-year-old centerpiece quarterback, this isn’t the announcement you want to make in September. especially when every hand should Feel so good that it’s not a topic of conversation. Unfortunately, rams don’t have that luxury.

What they have in common is an excess of curiosity, so much so that an executive opposed to NFC had two questions during training camp when a visitor mentioned that he had recently seen a Rams practice. First, was Matthew Stafford throwing the football that day? And second, what did he look like?

This is the kind of things teams want to know when they hear that a quarterback kicks off his off-season and then enters camp on the pitch count. Because that’s certainly not a good thing for either team, let alone a defending Super Bowl champion who involved that quarterback and his elbow tendinitis in a massive contract extension.

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Make no mistake, Stafford’s elbow position will affect the entire NFC landscape. If he is healthy, or the team can manage the same pain as in 2021, the Rams start the season as the best team in the conference. But if there’s some sort of permanent issue that requires more than just experienced maintenance—or worse, puts Stafford off for a sustained period—it could reshape both the NFC West and the Super Bowl picture of the conference. Is.

Not that Ram is particularly worried about it. Back in July, McVay brushed off any concerns as the franchise sided with caution. He was also insisting that Stafford not playing in the preseason was a matter of his ideology, and that there was no concern about elbows. As McVay stated, Stafford would never play in the Precision game again, only out of design and intelligence. He explained that Stafford’s outlook as something associated with risk mitigation over the next several years worsened with 2021 rather than simply reacting to a tendinitis issue.

“It’s about being smart with management,” McVay said in July. “He’ll be good when the season starts.”

Well, that moment has come and health management is over. Or at least, the most controllable part of it. Once Stafford steps onto the field against Buffalo, the only certainty is that his season leans on his throwing elbow — right with the NFC top.

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