Matthew Stafford vs. Justin Herbert: Who’s the Better QB According to New Top 40 Rankings?

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In some ways, comparing Justin Herbert and Matthew Stafford seems unavoidable since they represent each LA football team. Chris Simms gives us another reason to do just that. In his annual ‘Top 40 QB Countdown’ he stacks the two back to back with Stafford edging Herbert for the fifth spot.

Both trail Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, and Lamar Jackson. But Simms does lump the two together in his 3rd tier, titled, “Damn! Ok.”

Comparing Matthew Stafford And Justin Herbert

While in some ways comparison is unavoidable, when getting down to brass tacks, it is nearly impossible. One is at the end of his career, the other is just beginning. Stafford has been with the Los Angeles Rams, one of the most stable ecosystems for a quarterback for the last four seasons, while Herbert has seen two general managers, three head coaches, and four offensive coordinators heading into his fifth season with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Both are big sturdy, tough, and smart with cannons for throwing arms. It took Stafford a few years to get going while Herbert hit the ground running.

The biggest difference is how aggressive they are as quarterbacks. Stafford has earned the moniker ‘gunslinger’ while Herbert is far more conservative, despite his big arm. If two stats could boil it down, it would be Pro Football Focus’ Big Time Throws (BTT) and Turnover Worthy Plays (TWP). Stafford’s BTT percentage is 5.3%, compared to Herbert’s 4.1. In his two full seasons under Sean McVay, that has ticked up to 6.2. Herbert’s best was 5% and Staffords was an incredible 8.2% in 2019. Stafford was sixth last season with 33 BTTs. Herbert was 14th with 24.

Justin Herbert
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

But this flips when looking at throwing the ball into harm’s way. Stafford’s career average of 3.2 percent, Herbert’s is 1.9. Stafford has equaled or bettered that number only twice in his 15 seasons.

Their most comparable season was 2021. Both got it done, but in their own ways.

AttComp %YardsY/recTDsINTsBTTTWPADOTEPA/play
Matthew Stafford60167.248868.1411736258.85th
Justin Herbert67265.950147.5381527137.96th
EPA statistics provided by RBSDM.com

This season will be an interesting year for both quarterbacks. Expectations for their respective teams are to win between 8 and 10 games, both expected to be competing for a playoff spot. The Rams and Chargers are both expected to lean more into the ground game as well. 2024 could be a very comparable year for Stafford and Herbert, but it might look much different statistically than 2021.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Detroit Lions
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports