Flip the switch? The lights go on. Flip the switch again? The power goes off. It’s an efficient way to illuminate a room, while also ensuring electrical energy is conserved. As long as people remember to flip the switch. In short, the LA Rams plan to flip the switch on veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford. On opening night, Sunday, September 12, the Rams intend to flip the switch on.
But did you know that light bulbs consume much more energy in powering up to shine? It takes time to go from 0 to 100. That is why the Denver Broncos kept starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the game for nearly the entire first half against the Rams’ second and third-string defense. Their head coach, Vic Fangio, was attempting to power up Bridgewater in preparation for the upcoming 2021 NFL season.
Will Stafford shine?
LA Rams head coach Sean McVay has been always been a strong believer in not playing his starters in the preseason. In his five-year tenure as the Rams head coach, they have rarely seen any action. Although this year I think he should’ve gotten newly acquired QB Matthew Stafford some reps. I understand now wanting to get his guys hurt. But at the same time, Stafford hasn’t played with any of these guys in real game action. This is his first season in the rather complex LA Rams offense. How can the team be certain that Stafford will shine just by the flick of a switch?
The team also just acquired running back Sony Michael. who could make a push to be the team’s starter with Cam Akers out for the year. How quickly will the backfield sync up in a live NFL game situation?
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young has been attributed with making the comment that the first four games of the regular are a mini preseason with teams feeling each other out. I wonder if the Rams offense will have an even longer adjustment period due to a lack of preseason snaps and reps. It didn’t hurt them in 2020, as the team started out with a record of 3-1 in their first four games. But they had QB Jared Goff all of the previous seasons, he was familiar with the offense that largely consisted of the same players, and no team benefitted from preseason games before the 2020 season. Stafford has never been on an offense other than that of the Detroit Lions before, and he may have benefited from a few live reps with the offense during the preseason.
Stafford has spent some time with McVay this offseason. They first picked each other’s brains in Mexico on vacation just before he got traded. Stafford is a very smart guy and a hard worker. but it’s different when the lights turn on and he’ll have to work with all new wide receivers, running backs, and offensive linemen. That’s a lot to ask of him to just pick it up right away. On Opening night, the Rams will face a very tough defense in the Chicago Bears. Now imagine blocking schemes being miscommunicated and Khail Mack causing Chaos or hurting Stafford.
I understand the goal of not wanting to get players hurt, but this is football. Sometimes players need reps to make sure they’ll be up to game speed in week one. That is why McVay did not play up to 35 of the team’s most vital players. And that’s why it’s important for those same players to try to get competitive opportunities against some of these other teams in practice settings. Practicing against the Cowboys in a game-like scripted setting. Knocking the Raiders around twice before the preseason game. The team’s coaching staff is always looking for those things.
"‘Until you tell me that if a guy gets hurt in the preseason that we’ll get those games back or they’ll add them on the schedule afterwards as, ‘Oh yeah, you get two games because you lost those guys in the preseason,’ it’s hard for me to make sense of it.” –Sean McVay as per his interview on the Doug Gotlieb Show"
While these joint practices at least give him some kinda live look, is it the same? Will it have the same effect? Can a quarterback refine his timing and poise in casual scrimmages just to avoid the risk of injury? Some could say yes, but I’d argue it still can’t replicate a real game. It will be interesting to see how this strategy plays out for McVay.
The first game is on September 12th. That’s in less than two weeks. It will be a great test for the new LA Rams.