Matthew Stafford: LA Rams missing link for a Super Bowl run

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

If LA Rams All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald can elevate the play of the team’s defensive front seven, and if All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey can elevate the play of the team’s secondary, then can the play of veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford‘s ability to improvise elevate the play of the team’s offense? Can he lead the LA Rams on a Super Bowl run this year?

That’s the million-dollar question, and one that LA Rams general manager Les Snead and head coach Sean McVay have staked their reputation on. After four seasons of whiteboarding, planning, designing, and reformulating an offense to deliver the best chance of success to win in the NFL, McVay has reached the inevitable conclusion: When the play breaks down on the field, he needs a quarterback who can make positive yardage nevertheless.

Perhaps that is why he had a strong belief in the play of backup quarterback John Wolford to start against the Seattle Seahawks? While Wolford did not exactly have a record-setting performance against the Arizona Cardinals to get the Rams into the NFL Playoffs, he did enough. But most of all, when the play broke down, he found ways to gain yardage and move the chains with his ability to scramble.

One of the NFL’s greatest improvisational QBs

That may have inspired the Rams to trade for one of the best NFL quarterbacks at improvising when a play breaks down. Plays broke down a lot with the Detroit Lions. And they relied upon quarterback Matthew Stafford to come back and claim a victory. Now, the LA Rams hope to tap some of that improvisation, not to win hopeless games, but merely to keep the Rams offense churning out yardage when the defense breaks down a play.

You can count NFL Network’s analyst James Jones as a believer in Matthew Stafford. Just listen to this:

Is it wise to compare Matthew Stafford to the likes of Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers before he throws even one pass in the LA Rams offense? Perhaps not. But let’s go down the list of ‘potential’ 1000 yard receivers who will be hauling in the Stafford passes?

Rams player production under Stafford

More from Matt Stafford

There are there who have been to the 1000-yard receiver plateau in Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and DeSean Jackson. Any one of these receivers could break the 1K yard mark this season, particularly with the extra game added to the season.

There is the potential 1000-yard performance out of tight end Tyler Higbee. The Rams have gotten over 1K yards from the tight end position but had historically split that production between Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. With Everett gone, the load will naturally fall upon Higbee to deliver. This season, I think that he does.

There is even the potential of a 1000-yard season out of second-year player Van Jefferson. He combines superb route running with a bit more speed than many expect, and he could be a huge benefactor from the arrival of Stafford to the Rams. He was a training camp virtuoso, and I would not be surprised for that chemistry with Stafford to spill over into the 2021 NFL season.

That’s five players with 1K yards potential, and we haven’t touched the RBs, or TE2/3 in this offense. Will that be enough to make things happen? Well, yardage isn’t the only aspect of the offense that needs to improve. The Rams could move the ball up and down the field in 2020. Where they stalled last year was shooting themselves in the foot in the red zone, and not scoring points. This year, the team hopes to find more points for their efforts.

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Will the Rams offense benefit from the Matthew Stafford effect? Who’s to say before he plays a single game for the LA Rams? But that shouldn’t stop anyone from being optimistic about his, or the LA Rams, chances for success this season. While nobody knows just how good the team can be in 2021, it’s a safe bet that they won’t be bad. So far, the LA Rams have not had a losing season under head coach Sean McVay’s leadership. This year, they appear to be better than the 2020 version that finished 10-6. We’ll know soon enough, as the season starts in just nine days.