Will Rams QB Matthew Stafford stand out next season?
By: Will Baptist
Matthew Stafford’s play has been somewhat erratic throughout his career, but being traded to the Los Angeles Rams will prove to be a blessing. The Detroit Lions are in disarray and have been one of the most dysfunctional organizations over the past 30 years. Stafford desperately needed a fresh start to prove that he can still be a top-10 QB in the NFL.
Stafford led them to the playoffs on three separate occasions, but was never able to secure a playoff victory. The Lions have not won a playoff game since 1991, and it seems they are starting all over once again.
Stafford was the first overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft and has one of the biggest arms in the NFL. In his 12-year tenure with the Lions, he compiled 45,109 passing yards and 282 passing touchdowns and broke a multitude of records.
Stafford had some outstanding seasons with the Lions, and showed true greatness. His best season was back in 2011, when he completed 63.5% of his passes and threw for 5,038 yards, 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Stafford was one of the QBs in the NFL at throwing the deep ball, especially when Calvin Johnson was in Detroit.
The Lions simply never had a talented enough roster for Stafford to get them over the hump. They had a horrid defense throughout his time there, and never had a stable run game. Stafford is now with a proven coaching staff and offensive guru in Sean McVay, with a Super Bowl ready roster. Stafford will not have to force the issue, and he is now set up to have the best season of his career at 33 years old.
The talent on the Rams roster
The Rams are a drastically better organization than the Lions, and their roster is a perfect fit for Stafford to step in and dominate. Outside of Calvin Johnson, the Lions did not surround Stafford with much talent, while also having one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.
Cooper Kupp is one of the best slot receivers in the NFL, and he is poised for a huge season in 2021. He played in 15 games last year and caught 92 balls for 974 yards and three touchdowns. That was a down year for Kupp compared to his stellar 2019 season, where he caught 94 balls for 1,161 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Robert Woods has been a model of consistency since arriving in Los Angeles. Over the past three seasons, Woods has 266 catches, 3,289 receiving yards and 14 receiving touchdowns. Last year was his first season under 1,000 receiving yards since 2017, but he should eclipse 1,000 yards easily with Stafford under center.
Van Jefferson was one of the Rams second round picks in 2020, but he was not used very often last season. All signs are pointing towards a breakout season for Jefferson, according to the reports from the Rams camp. McVay is extremely high on him and now that Josh Reynolds has left the team, Jefferson can step into that role immediately.
Cam Akers was the other second round pick in 2020 for the Rams and he is in line to be the every down back this season. He took over as the lead back for the last four games and their two postseason games and looked like a veteran. In the last six games, he totaled 561 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. He is running behind one of the best offensive lines in football, which will help Stafford immensely as well.
A lot of offensive players had a down season for the Rams last year because of how poor Jared Goff played. His inability to throw the ball down the field made it much easier for opposing defenses to defend the Rams. Stafford is one of the most gifted quarterbacks in the NFL in terms of arm talent, which bodes well for all of the Rams skill positions to have a bounce back year.
Jared Goff’s production with the Rams
Goff was the first overall pick in 2016, but he did not live up to the hype. Stafford proved that he should have been taken first overall with his talent and production, while Goff was wildly underwhelming throughout his time with the Rams. Goff’s only good seasons with the Rams were 2017 and 2018.
In 2017, Goff led the Rams to an 11-4 record for the 15 games that he played. He completed 62.1% of his passes and threw for 3,804 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His play was up and down, but he kept the mistakes to a minimum and showed that he may have been worth the first overall pick.
Regardless of Goff being inconsistent, he was still able to have great production and lead his team to a Super Bowl in 2018. During that season, he completed 64.9% of his passes and threw for 4,688 yards, 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and led his team to a 13-3 record. He was atrocious in the Super Bowl in their 13-3 loss, and Bill Belichick laid out the blueprint on how to disrupt Goff by constantly getting pressure on him.
McVay set Goff up for success and surrounded him with extremely talented playmakers for those two seasons. He had Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods all making their presence felt, while McVay was a mastermind at drawing plays up that Goff could handle.
Goff showed flashes of being good throughout his time with the Rams, but overall his play was disappointing. If they had better quarterback play in 2018, they could have won the Super Bowl without question.
The Rams were one of the best offenses in the NFL during Goff’s time there, even though Goff was below average. Stafford is a much better player than Goff in every aspect, and with how genius McVay is at running an offense, the sky is the limit for Stafford in Los Angeles.