Stafford: How d’ya like me now?
The LA Rams may have been a team that starts the offense with play-action off the run, but I don’t think you can make that claim now. Not with the same conviction, anyways. Stafford didn’t have the benefit of a strong running game in the first half. In fact, the team only managed 12 yards rushing on seven carries. Of course, the offense managed 14 plays, as Stafford was six of seven passing for 114 yards and a touchdown.
14 plays, 13 points. For the entire game, the Rams offense ran just 49 plays and scored 34 points. That was a very efficient and effective offense. But there was more to it as well. How long has it been since the Rams did not turn the ball over in a game? The Rams won the turnover battle in the opener by (+2). If the Rams do nothing else, that will be a huge boost to this team. In 2020, the LA Rams finished the season at (-3) at turnovers. Only the Chicago Bears and Washington Football team, at (-4), made the playoffs with a worse statistic.
This was not a quarterback who was zinging passes all over the field like a laser beam that hit and ricocheted off the hands of his receivers. Nor was this a quarterback who struggled for three quarters who put up a ton of passing yards in the fourth quarter after the game was well out of reach. Nope. No garbage yardage against a prevent defense in this one.
The skeptics were all too happy to point out that Stafford was a big fish in a little pond with the Detroit Lions. That his performances were all about the fact that the Lions were not a contender, that he played one of the easiest schedules against some of the worst defenses of his time. Putting up his level of production was not so much about how good Stafford was, but rather about how bad the Lions were. Weekly shootouts where the Lions more often than not came up short.
SoFi Stadium is the crown jewel stadium of the NFL. There is no better, elaborate, or ornate football field in the nation. It is the Met Gala of the NFL, the top of the heap stage to showcase football talents. And LA Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford proved in his Sunday Night Football debut that he is big enough for any NFL football field, for any stage.
If Matthew Stafford is asking: “How do you like me now?” to his critics, I think some of those same skeptics will be singing a different now. I know LA Rams fans are. One game does not make the 2021 season. But I believe that some see a path for the Rams to compete in Super Bowl LVI where they didn’t see one before.
"How do you like me now? How do you like me now? Now that I’m on my way Do you still think I’m crazy Standing here today? – chorus lyrics from Toby Keith’s How do you like me now?"