And while the new play-caller in town has yet to play a snap for McVay’s Rams, we can look to Stafford’s past as a solid indicator for what’s to come for the Super Bowl-hopeful Rams.
What Matthew Stafford’s Past Can Tell Us About His Future
It’s felt like an eternity since the Rams last played in the Super Bowl against the victorious New England Patriots. Seeing the team go from an offense-first approach to prioritizing a loaded defense that topped the league during 2020, it feels like the Rams are now primed to return to McVay’s second-best offensive game plan in the league with Stafford’s inclusion in the offense.
Stafford put up a solid 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2020 with no true receiving talent outside of an injured Kenny Golladay, meaning the QB is ready to start spreading the ball across receivers and running backs with a loaded arsenal in LA.
Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods continue to be one of the league’s most reliable receivers for the short and important yards, while rookie Tutu Atwell and veteran DeSean Jackson hope to challenge opposing secondaries with great speed and Stafford’s exceptional deep-ball accuracy. Stafford’s going from a KIA to a BMW — not that there’s anything wrong with a dependable Forte.
Still at a decent age, with an extension or two still left in him, Stafford’s dependable accuracy could be a large benefit to developing receivers like Atwell and Van Jefferson, along with relieving some dependency for the Rams to have an excellent o-line as Andrew Whitworth nears retirement after this season after losing most of 2020 to a season-ending MCL tear and damaged PCL.
Former Rams’ play-caller Jared Goff was known for folding under pressure, while Stafford’s slightly improved athleticism over the former Ram should keep the plays running longer, and allows for receivers like Woods or Kupp to find pockets on the field for mild-to-long gains through the air. According to PFF, in 2020, Jared Goff had a passer rating of 45.9 under pressure, while Stafford’s 91.8 passer rating was among the league’s best.
While Goff’s career completion rate of 63% nearly matches Stafford’s numbers, Rams fans could spot the missing yards and missed open throws toward the latter end of the young QB’s career. Stafford’s consistency with finding receivers, both near the scrimmage line or down the field, gets a vote of confidence from the fanbase after years of helping Megatron/Calvin Johnson become a beast over the middle or 40 yards downfield.
Stafford’s veteran eye for the field and acuity as a play-caller when reading a defense has helped keep him relevant as a top-15 QB in the league with a disastrous franchise like the Detroit Lions. With all due respect.
The Rams’ bid for Stafford is knowing that the QB they are receiving is already near a polished product, just a matter of getting him acclimated to the new scene — which head coach Sean McVay is MORE than happy to do.
McVay was even criticized by the media during their open practice — hosting 30,000 proud Rams fans for the first time in SoFi Stadium — for romanticizing over the season ahead after only making a true change to the roster from the quarterback position. With the exodus of defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, who led the league’s best defense last year, McVay should be worried, if anything. McVay addressed reporters at the practice that his high praise for Stafford was misconstrued as a jab at former QB Jared Goff, but it appears that Stafford’s acute knowledge of the playbook and rocket for an arm are providing a new horizon for the LA Rams.
The guy certainly knows what he’s doing, with a Coach of the Year award to show for it. But the energy going into the 2021-2022 regular season does have a different aura to it now that the 33-year-old quarterback is ready to provide a boost in offensive production, and reinvigorated Super Bowl viability, for the team.