Matthew Stafford and Sean McVay will take the league by storm
By: Andy Davies
The Los Angeles Rams have a new quarterback, in former Detroit Lions first overall pick Matthew Stafford.
Despite going all the way to the NFC Divisional Round last season, Rams head coach Sean McVay was not happy with the performances of Jared Goff. The Rams traded for Stafford earlier this year, with Goff going the other way.
Here is why he and McVay can be the perfect match for each other.
McVay’s Early Coaching Career
The Rams’ head coach never had the playing career that he would have wanted but he soon found his speciality when it came to coaching. McVay, who is currently 35 years old, started as an offensive assistant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008. He would spend one season in 2009 with the Florida Tuskers before heading back to the NFL with Washington, where he would spend seven seasons.
During these seven seasons, he would be an offensive assistant before becoming a tight ends coach and finally an offensive coordinator whilst in America’s capital.
His period as an offensive coordinator in Washington would result in him being named the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, who were a franchise a year removed from relocating after spending twenty years in St Louis.
His Time As An NFL Head Coach
McVay came into a franchise who had made the playoffs in just 4 of the previous 17 seasons.
He immediately changed things, with playoff appearances in all but one of his four seasons since being the head coach. This includes an appearance in Super Bowl 53, which ended in the disappointment of a 13-3 defeat to the New England Patriots in Atlanta. His infectious personality drew people in early and he is seen as one of the best young coaches in the NFL. He went viral when he was able to memorize previous coaching plays.
His head coaching record stands at 43-21 in the regular season and 3-3 in the postseason, with no losing seasons and only one campaign that hasn’t ended in double-digit wins.
Can Stafford be the final piece in the jigsaw for what is an almost complete roster?
Jared Goff’s Time In Los Angeles
Stafford is a clear upgrade on Goff, who hasn’t been a bad quarterback for the franchise. He just has not been the guy to take the team over the final hurdle.
During the 2016 draft, it was seen as a toss of the coin if the Rams would pick Goff or Carson Wentz. The Rams traded up for the first overall pick via the Tennessee Titans and Goff was selected. He reached a Super Bowl but lost whereas Wentz won a ring despite being injured for the entire postseason in what would have been an MVP award had he stayed healthy.
Both his first and last season saw disappointment but for entirely different reasons. Goff failed to win a single game as a rookie, finishing the 2016 season with a 0-7 record. He threw for 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. However, Goff had his more productive years in between these seasons.
2017 saw McVay improve Goff’s game and 2018 saw his best season as they reached the Super Bowl. 2019 saw a dip in form before his disappointing 2020 campaign.
Goff threw for 3,804 yards, 28 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in 2017. He recorded 4,688 passing yards, 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2018 before throwing for 4,638 yards, 22 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 2019.
2020 saw Goff throw for 20 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and 3,952 yards.
Stafford’s Time In Detroit
Just like Goff, Stafford was also a number one overall pick. In 2009, the Detroit Lions drafted him out of Georgia after going 0-16 in 2008.
During his twelve seasons and 165 games for the Lions, he recorded 3,898 completions from 6,224 attempts (62.6%). He ended his time in Detroit with 45,109 passing yards, 282 touchdown passes and 144 interceptions.
Despite the lack of success Detroit had on the field, Stafford was a fighter and always gave 100% for the franchise. He will always be remembered for his heroic play against the Cleveland Browns during his rookie year where he was Mic’d Up.
After suffering a separated shoulder he was treated on the sidelines. He went back out onto the field and helped Detroit with throwing the winning touchdown.
Despite the 74-90-1 record in the regular season and going 0-3 in the postseason, Stafford has always been deemed a great player trapped in a bad team. He now has his chance to play in a good team, a roster that is seen as one of the contenders for a place in Super Bowl 56.
McVay and Stafford: A Perfect Match
Stafford is a big plus for McVay and the Rams and he has already received high praise from his new head coach.
“He’s even better than advertised. The ability to see the game, his ability to draw on his experiences and the feel that he has is special and unique. He has feel for people and an authentic way of connecting with his teammates and coaches. It is great being around him”.
It is clear what McVay thinks of Stafford, a stark contrast to the relationship between him and Goff. This is a relationship that came to blows in the defeat to San Francisco in the 2020 season.
“Our quarterback’s got to take better care of the football. Any time that you turn it over as many times as we did and he did, it just has to be better. He’s capable of it, but we have to be able to get it done.”
Goff made amends in the win over the Seattle Seahawks in the Wildcard Round but threw for just 174 yards and was sacked four times as they lost 32-18 to the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round at Lambeau Field.
Stafford will now get to play with those wide receiver options that Goff struggled to throw to. Robert Woods has two 1,000+ yard seasons and 6,521 career yards. Cooper Kupp has 3,570 career yards and 24 touchdowns throughout the four seasons he has spent in the NFL.
Marvin Jones recorded 36 touchdowns since his move from the Cincinnati Bengals to Detroit in 2016 and Kenny Golladay has 3,068 yards and 21 touchdowns since being drafted by the Lions in 2017. Stafford is still transitioning from two great receivers to two fellow top wideouts.
However, there is more depth at the Rams organization. Van Jefferson and DeSean Jackson are the third and fourth choice wideouts for the Rams whereas the Lions have rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown as their third choice receiver.
The Rams also, unlike the Lions, have a great defense which is arguably the best in the NFL on their day. Not only do the Rams have the best defensive player in the league in Aaron Donald, but they also have the best cornerback in the NFL in Jalen Ramsey.
Ramsey (below) backs up his words with his performances on the field and he will play alongside Darius Williams, who had a great 2020. This campaign saw Williams record four interceptions. Safeties Jordan Fuller and Taylor Rapp make up a young and promising secondary.
The Rams allowed the least total yards and total yards per game in the entire league during 2020 along with the least passing yards, the third least rushing yards, and the least points. Stafford will welcome this with open arms after a defense in Detroit that let him down most seasons.
During the twelve campaigns Stafford spent in Detroit, the Lions’ defense was twentieth or lower in seven of those seasons for total points allowed, only being in the top ten on three occasions.
This move seems to suit everyone involved from the Rams’ point of view. Perhaps Goff would disagree. McVay has a new toy to play with. Stafford meanwhile, finally gets the chance to play for a Super Bowl contender.