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 by Elvis
1 week ago
 Total posts:   30674  
 Joined:  Mar 28 2015
United States of America   Los Angeles
Administrator

https://www.theringer.com/nfl/2021/9/13 ... sean-mcvay

Matthew Stafford Ripped the Ceiling Off the Rams Offense

A stellar debut instantly turned on-paper potential into on-field results, and Sean McVay was impressed: “You’re not limited in anything you can do with him in the pass game.”

By Kaelen Jones Sep 13, 2021

Image
Getty Images/Ringer illustration

It took three plays to make seven months of waiting worth it. When Sean McVay’s Rams agreed to trade two first-round picks and Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford in late January, both sides foresaw a bright future. Football’s sharpest offensive mind had armed himself with a quarterback capable of playing beyond the structures of his play-calling. The possibilities seemed endless, but no one could guarantee it would work. Los Angeles didn’t unveil Stafford during the preseason, so hardly anyone knew what to expect.

Then, on just his second pass as a Ram, Stafford ripped a 67-yard touchdown, setting the stage for what was to come that night—and what Stafford and McVay look to continue into the season.



Los Angeles’s explosive 34-14 victory over the Bears on Sunday night lifted the curtain on a new era of Rams football. What for so long was simply on-paper potential is now on-field results—and they were as impressive as anyone could have hoped. Stafford tidily completed 20 of his 26 attempts for a monstrous 321 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went for 50-plus yards. (The Rams had only two TD passes of 50 yards or more throughout the entire 2020 season.)

That first touchdown pass perfectly matched McVay’s efficient scheme with Stafford’s big arm. It came on a two-man route concept featuring a heavy-sell play-action, where receiver Cooper Kupp delivered a crack block to a Bears edge rusher, preventing him from reaching Stafford as the QB rolled away from the pocket. Stafford reset his footing outside the left hashmark and unleashed a deep pass down the far right side of the field toward second-year widout Van Jefferson. Jefferson stumbled over himself as he caught Stafford’s throw inside the 15-yard line, then somehow rolled up to his feet and outraced three Bears defenders to the end zone.

The 70,445 fans inside of SoFi Stadium—the first fans to attend a non-preseason game there since the venue opened last year—erupted. Stafford sprinted downfield and strutted in celebration. The Rams’ sideline went crazy. In an instant, Los Angeles’s offensive potential had been realized.

“You could just see there was a look in his eye,” McVay said of Stafford after the game. “He had confidence in his teammates, he expected to play well, and he did a great job.” The fifth-year coach lauded Stafford’s steady demeanor, although he couldn’t pinpoint one specific thing about Stafford’s performance that impressed him, because he “loved everything that he did tonight.” McVay smiled so bright at the podium Sunday night that he could’ve lit the 69,000 LED cards comprising SoFi Stadium’s humongous video board.

What sets Stafford apart from Goff is not only his arm talent, but also how he uses it. Over the past three seasons, 18.7 percent of Stafford’s attempts have been into tight windows, where defenders are 1 yard or less from intended targets, according to Next Gen Stats. Goff averaged 12.9 percent over that same span. In pure dropback situations in which QBs have to process more, Stafford has been above average, whereas Goff has been subpar. Furthermore, Stafford has been one of the NFL’s best play-action passers in recent seasons—and the Rams offense ran the most play-action plays in 2020, per Pro Football Reference. Stafford went 8-for-8 with 155 and two TDs on play-action calls on Sunday, according to Next Gen Stats.

“He’s gifted,” McVay said. “He’s got a great ability to be able to change his arm slot and make all types of throws, whether it be short, intermediate, or down the field. But you’re not limited in anything you can do with him in the pass game.”

From a schematic standpoint, Stafford was a choice fit for McVay. On Sunday night, Stafford showed why over and over again. He led scoring drives on six of the Rams’ seven offensive series (not counting one short possession that ended with halftime and another that ended with the final whistle). Los Angeles ran only 48 total plays against the Bears and scored 34 points. The Rams recorded first downs or scored on 13 of Stafford’s 26 pass attempts, including a 56-yard TD pass to Kupp early in the third quarter. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Stafford’s 156.1 passer rating is the highest of any player debuting with a new team in NFL history. It was also a career high for Stafford. He completed passes to six different receivers, a distribution that McVay said was exactly what he wanted.

“It was a great job all the way around,” Jefferson said. “Matt did a great job of facilitating the ball to everyone. This offense can be explosive. We’re just following Matt.”

Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey didn’t need to see the numbers to assess that Stafford’s performance was, in his own words, “amazing.”

“His command, his swag—like, everything was great,” Ramsey said. “That’s a debut that probably should go down in history. Just the way he played with swag.” (That’s a big shift since 2018, when Ramsey, then with the Jaguars, assessed Stafford’s abilities in GQ: “I don’t think he the best quarterback out there. But he do what he gotta do.”) Ramsey speaks plainly, and his public appraisal of Stafford wasn’t the only instance in which Ramsey showed his new QB appreciation on Sunday. On the touchdown to Jefferson, Ramsey sprinted on to the field to celebrate with the QB.

“It was cool for him to be out there celebrating with me,” Stafford said. “I was having fun. He seemed like he was having a good time.”

“It just looked good,” Ramsey said of the play. “I mean, they practice that [play] and they came out and did it in a game, connected, and it looked great.”

The rapport displayed Sunday took time to develop. Stafford, 33, had previously quarterbacked the Detroit Lions for 12 years. He found transitioning from one team to another—from one city to another—challenging. He’d been selective about where he’d play after deciding to leave the Lions, but even when considering how talented the Rams are, how QB-friendly McVay’s system is, and how beautiful the weather is in Southern California, Stafford needed time to adjust.

“It’s tough,” Stafford said of the transition. “It’s a lot of work for me, but really, it’s a lot of work for everybody.” Stafford spent the offseason poring over the playbook with McVay and offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell. Stafford was the new guy on an offense mostly made up of returning players, but he diligently worked to understand the system, and that effort paid off on Sunday.

“It’s a new experience for me,” Stafford said. “A new place, new stadium, new fans, the whole deal. But this team has embraced me and I really appreciate that. I’ve done everything I can just to work as hard as I can to get myself in this team and they’ve wrapped their arms around me and it felt good to go out there and play with them tonight.”

Earlier in the week, Stafford had alluded to how incredible his teammates were on the field, noting that Rams practices are competitive. Los Angeles’s defense touts both Ramsey and defensive tackle Aaron Donald (the reigning Defensive Player of the Year), two of the game’s biggest stars. Practices, which were intense when former defensive coordinator Brandon Staley was around last year, remain a battle under new DC Raheem Morris, who fields what has the makings of another top defense. Last season, the unit ranked fourth in Football Outsiders DVOA ratings. Morris’s defense got off to a decent start on Sunday, despite Chicago’s David Montgomery breaking loose for 108 rushing yards. Los Angeles held the Bears offense to 14 points, recording three sacks and forcing two turnovers, including a red zone pick on the opening drive.

The Bears’ defense, too, is impressive. The unit has a first-time coordinator in Sean Desai, but it ranked eighth in DVOA last season and is led in the front seven by Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, and Robert Quinn. Yet the Bears registered only one sack and four QB hits.

Stafford will drive the Rams’ success this season. L.A. is three seasons removed from scoring just three points in Super Bowl LIII, with some pointing to the Rams’ QB situation as the reason the team fell short that year. It doesn’t appear that Los Angeles would face the same issue again this season. But the Super Bowl is too far down the line to worry about now; the NFC West remains a gauntlet, following a 4-0 start for the division this week. The Rams entered the season with the 10th-most difficult schedule. L.A. still has a long road ahead of it.

For now, though, the seven-month buildup to Stafford’s Rams tenure—as well as the draft capital L.A. gave up to acquire him—looks well worth it. If everything goes accordingly, five months from now the franchise’s gamble will still be paying off. Stafford, who hasn’t been to the postseason since the 2016 season and has never won a playoff game, is determined to do his part. “[I] was at a place for a long time,” he said, “and getting to a new place and being able to come out Week 1, night one, and get a win and play the way we did, it feels good. A lot of work to be done, but it’s definitely a good start.”

 by PARAM
1 week ago
 Total posts:   7437  
 Joined:  Jul 15 2015
Barbados   Just far enough North of Philadelphia
Hall of Fame

(The Rams had only two TD passes of 50 yards or more throughout the entire 2020 season.)


Amazing!!

I don't want to get ahead of myself but that first TD pass....and how fast it happened.....on the third play of the game......reminded me of the playoff game against Minnesota in 1999. I realize the 99 pass to Ike was on the first offensive play by the Rams but still, that one last night was very much like it.

 by faulkrram
1 week ago
 Total posts:   58  
 Joined:  Jan 13 2016
United States of America   Vermeil Country
Practice Squad

It was a thing of beauty to watch. Stafford is smooth as glass out there. He seriously looked like Warner threading perfect passes in tight windows, and the team looked sharp. I watched the Whiner game and watched Goff play like normal, a couple really good plays over shadowed especially by his BIG CHOKE pick 6 INT he gave up right before halftime. Now the Lions get to see what it's like trailing and needing Goff more than ever to come through only to disappoint. The irony of the situation and both games yesterday were present of all to see....Great move to get Stafford!!! Go Rams....

 by Hacksaw
1 week ago
 Total posts:   19951  
 Joined:  Apr 15 2015
United States of America   AT THE BEACH
Moderator

QTFOS: GAME 1, LIONS FAN EDITION;

Say Stafford plays 6 more seasons. Has an amazing 6 seasons, wins a couple Superbowls. Amazing stats every year. Gets elected to the HOF.
Would he go as a Ram or a Lion?

That would definitely be as a Ram. His chance of going in if he’s relying on his Lions career are s*** and none.

Easily the Rams.

He just had the highest ever rating as a starting QB as a QB on a NEW team.

I thought he played great. Not sure how good of a running game they will have but he has plenty of guys to throw to. I had no idea Kupp was the #1 YAC guy in the NFL

Matt already won the Super Bowl of Life…he is out of Detroit!!!
Its amazing what happens to quality players when they get out from the atmosphere of failure in Detroit. Matt is happy as can be. He is in the entertainment capital of the world, great weather, lots of endorsements and the Lions are in his rear view mirror. I wish him all the best and a chance at win a championship.

It certainly looks like he didn’t make a mistake asking for that trade

It was great to see what can happen when a talented player gets out of the Lions Den of Despair. Like Kyle Van Noy, I wish Matt great success but most of all it was fun watching him play when he wasn’t forced to run for his life for 60 minutes.

Great to see him give the L to a division rival.

Beating the Bears apparently is a much bigger deal in LA than it was Detroit

If you didn’t watch the game and only looked at the box score, I defy anyone to tell me the difference between Goff and Stafford.

I don’t see anything about last night’s performance that wasn’t typical for Matthew Stafford.

I’m fully expecting Stafford to begin benefiting from the Aaron Rodgers (aka golden boy) treatment.
He’s going to be enjoying a lot of calls he never got in Detroit.

Stafford had a great start to his Rams career. And even though I’d prefer the Rams lose because I want a better draft pick, I did feel happy for Staff...

 by max
1 week ago
 Total posts:   4625  
 Joined:  Jun 01 2015
United States of America   Fairfield County, CT
Superstar

How many players didn’t make it to the HOF, not because of lack of talent, determination, or football IQ, but because they were in a bad organization?

I remember Archie Manning being stuck on those awful Saints teams in the early 70’s. What a shame.

Stafford has a legitimate shot at the HOF now because of McVay.

 by 69RamFan
1 week ago
 Total posts:   1436  
 Joined:  Oct 15 2016
United States of America   LA CA by way of NY/NJ
Pro Bowl

QTFOS: GAME 1, LIONS FAN EDITION;

At least the Bear's Fans can still say they are in first place in their division....
:D :D :D

 by snackdaddy
1 week ago
 Total posts:   8358  
 Joined:  May 30 2015
United States of America   Merced California
Hall of Fame

PARAM wrote:Amazing!!

I don't want to get ahead of myself but that first TD pass....and how fast it happened.....on the third play of the game......reminded me of the playoff game against Minnesota in 1999. I realize the 99 pass to Ike was on the first offensive play by the Rams but still, that one last night was very much like it.


That pass to Ike was huge for a number of reasons. The Rams had an easy schedule that year. Coming off almost a decade of a losing culture people questioned if they were for real. They thought now that they have to play playoff caliber teams they would wilt. The Vikings took the opening kickoff, marched down the field and got a quick 3-0 lead. Then one pass told the world the Rams were for real.

 by rams74
6 days ago
 Total posts:   1133  
 Joined:  Nov 19 2015
Italy   Glendale, Arizona
Pro Bowl

snackdaddy wrote:Was Kershaw at the Rams game? Cory Seager and Justin Turner were there.

Kershaw said he'd have been there if he hadn't been pitching the next day.

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16 posts Sep 21 2021