Who Has The Most To Gain If The 2023 Rams Return To 2021 Heights? Stafford Or McVay?

The 2023 Rams are at a crossroads. Which means the QB and Coach are too.

After hitting the height of their potential in February 2021, Matthew Stafford and Sean McVay both took a step back in 2022 after falling short of expectations set for a return to the Super Bowl. Most of it was chalked up to injuries, but the results were the same: fans were disappointed and pundits quickly pivoted their attention elsewhere. However, this might offer an advantage to the 2023 Rams.

Now an under-the-radar underdog somehow just two seasons after winning the Super Bowl in a desolate NFC at the quarterback position, getting back to the Big Game might appear easier than it was in 2021. Of course, that is a dangerous take to make, but would Sean McVay or Matthew Stafford gain more if the team returns to peak relevancy?

Of course, both the quarterback and the head coach would significantly benefit from such a return. However, who would get more doors opening and leashes lengthening out of it?

2023 Rams: What They Have to Gain?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams Minicamp
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What Matthew Stafford Has to Gain in 2023

Stafford’s injury history is well documented over the last handful of seasons and having a healthy season would be only one step toward fully putting that critique back into Pandora’s Box. However, if he were to get injured again, the Rams would need to start considering the future. At 35 years old and suffering his second consecutive season cut short by injury, the plan for replacement would become a necessary discussion.

The team already has Stetson Bennett on the roster, who some think has the potential to be the eventual successor. Basically, as it stands, staying healthy and winning will elongate Stafford’s unchallenged time in Los Angeles in short-time chunks. In other words, the team knows the quarterback’s age will become a problem at some point potentially soon, and are more open to the possibility of turning the page. However, at 35 years old, one begins to question how long the quarterback has left to begin with.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams Minicamp
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What Sean McVay Has to Gain

Meanwhile, Sean McVay has proven that he cannot pull the Rams up by their bootstraps after losing Cooper Kupp and Stafford in the same season. However, as a still youthful NFL head coach, he could be building up a cache of goodwill now that will carry over for years to come. Of course, the quickest way to build that cache is in one of two ways. In one scenario, he could hit the ground running with Stafford and put on another memorable season that gets the team near the top.

In another scenario, if it were to become necessary to make a switch at quarterback due to injury or other happenstances, the spotlight would then fall on McVay above all. If McVay can win or at least tread water without a franchise signal caller, the success would likely follow him for perhaps up to a decade. Not only would it buy goodwill with the Rams, it will provide a means of hope for any other franchise down on their luck. Put simply, should McVay’s tenure with the Rams end at some point after putting on a clinic coaching job this year while overcoming unforeseen injury obstacles, he could extend his NFL career by five-plus years based on that alone.

That said, he has indicated an interest in retiring to join the broadcasting world, but should he wish to continue on until he exhausts every avenue in the league, doors would be ripped from hinges.


Stafford already has one Super Bowl ring and is not going to be around forever. Sure, adding another one would boost his resume further, but it won’t extend his career. McVay could still be around for essentially forever but in order to do that, he needs to avoid another 5-12 type of year and, even should things not go to plan, he’ll need to demonstrate he can manufacture some wins in a Mike Tomlin or Sean Payton-esque way.

Tomlin and Payton have both put together watchable seasons without their signal callers, Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees. Without Roethlisberger, Tomlin went 9-8 last year. Without Drew Brees, Payton also went 9-8 in 2021. Sean McVay has done it all except for putting on a similarly rugged coaching job. If it comes to it, will McVay be able to add such a season to his resume?