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Matthew Stafford believes rookie year experience vital to growth

The former first overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft views that in-game experience in his rookie campaign was crticial to his development.

Through the first five weeks of the 2016 season for the Los Angeles Rams, there has continued to be the looming question concerning when rookie Jared Goff will be given a chance to start.

He has yet to take the field since the preseason and has been the backup to starter Case Keenum for each of the last four games. During this time, a few of the opposing quarterbacks that the Rams have faced such as Arizona Cardinals' Carson Palmer have weighed in on the situation. 

With this week's opponent being the Detroit Lions, Matthew Stafford has provided his take on his experience since being selected with the first overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. In his rookie campaign, then-head coach Jim Schwartz announced him that he was the starter ahead of veteran Daunte Culpepper just prior to the start of the regular season. 

Looking back, Stafford stated during a media conference call on Wednesday morning that he was eyeing the starting job from the moment that he was selected in the draft by the Lions. 

“As a competitive person, I always wanted to play. I wanted to come in and try to win the job as soon as I could, and was able to early on," Stafford said. "We were battling that year. The Lions were coming off a year that wasn’t one to remember, the year before that. We were just trying to find who was going to be a part of our team and make us try to win games any way we could. It was a tough situation. Being a rookie in this league playing quarterback is not an easy thing, and I was just happy to get some experience early under my belt.”

Although he saw his rookie year cut short due to a knee injury, Stafford showed plenty of promise despite throwing 20 interceptions in 10 games as he either threw or ran for a touchdown in each contest over that stretch with Detroit holding a 2-8 record. The 28-year-old views getting starting job from the beginning as much-needed experience that has helped his progression as an NFL quarterback, but at the same time he also realizes that each situation in the league has different circumstances. 

“I think every situation is different. Every team is different that the player comes to, what those expectations of that team are, all that kind of stuff," Stafford said. "It’s all different. What the player is showing in practice, all that. That all goes into it. In the end, it’s coach’s decision. I think it’s worked well both ways for certain types of guys.”

In Stafford's case, earning the starting job early on helped him develop into one of the NFL's top-tier quarterbacks that has included earning a Pro Bowl selection and the 2011 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award after returning from a serious shoulder injury. He is also one of four players in league history to throw for more than 5,000 yards in a single season, and the fastest player in NFL history to reach 25,000 career passing yards in just 90 games. 

That said, Stafford is a firm believer that in-game experience for young quarterbacks is necessary in order for them to develop a strong mental fortitude and fulfill their potential. 

“I think with experience comes knowledge of certain coordinators and players in the league," Stafford said. "When you’re young in this league, you’re playing coordinators for the first time; you’re playing against players for the first time. Just like anything else, the more repetitions you get at playing certain coordinators and playing against certain players, the better you understand them.”


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