LA Rams Matthew Stafford: How d’ya like me now?

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /
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Matthew Stafford
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

Why the combination of Stafford-McVay could be THAT good?

Okay, so now for the pivotal discussion. This is head coach Sean McVay’s playbook. But there was no doubt that this is now Matthew Stafford’s offense. How so?  This wasn’t an offense that did the rope-a-dope until the Bear’s defense had the game well in hand. This was an offense that can now counterpunch.  Counterpunch against A-Gap blitzes. Counterpunch against rotating coverages. All the while, making progression reads.

One of the vulnerabilities to McVay’s offense in the past two seasons was the fact that it was too slow to react to what the defense threw at it. In the game against the Miami Dolphins in 2020, the Rams were down by a score of 28-10 at halftime. The first Dolphins touchdown began from an interception. The second touchdown began as an LA Rams fumble returned for a touchdown. The third touchdown was an 88-yard punt return for a touchdown. The fourth touchdown began as another strip-sack and a 28-yard fumble recovery. The Miami Dolphins defense guessed right on game day.

The Chicago Bears defense played the same hand. Stop the run, take away the short passing game, and force the Rams offense to gamble on pass protection lasting long enough to take shots deep downfield. Well, that appears to be Matthew Stafford’s wheelhouse, and he picked the Bears defense apart.

McVay is a great offensive tactician. Once he has a read on what the defense is doing, he can etch-a-sketch plays to counter that defense. But even he needs enough tie to observe, analyze, and counter the defense. In the past, the team found itself behind before the revised offensive game plan could kick in. Once down by two or more scores, it was all passing game, and defenses could pin their ears back and rush the quarterback relentlessly. Against the Bears, the halftime score was 13-7 with the Rams in the lead. The final score was 34-14. Now the Rams have a quarterback who can diagnose what the defense is trying to do on the field while the mad scientists cook up the antidote on the sidelines.

Stafford can do on the field what McVay can do on the whiteboard. This is going to be a very formidable offensive pairing.