Tread carefully. LA Rams faces formidable Arizona Cardinals in Week 4

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams News Matthew Stafford
Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

That Matthew Stafford effect

We would be remiss if we didn’t elaborate on one of the most significant changes to the LA Rams offensive arsenal, In short, the Arizona Cardinals loaded up to defeat what the LA Rams had been. I’m not convinced that the 2021 version of the LA Rams is even in the same ballpark.

There were three defensive strategies that worked against the LA Rams in 2019 and 2020. The first and most frustrating strategy was to blitz in the A-Gap. The second was to speed rush from either or both sides of the offensive line. The third was to snuff the running game and force the Rams quarterback to win the game on his arm.

The Rams faced A-gap blitzes against the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, faced speed rushes from the outside from the Chicago Bears, the Indianapolis Colts, and faced tough running against all three opponents to date. The LA Rams offense is operating under a new set of principles, and the roster is designed to optimize those principles.

light. Hot. Matthew Stafford is LA Rams Week 3 secret weapon

In 2020, the 2-0 Cardinals hosted the Detroit Lions and lost by a score of 26-23. The Lions were a bad team in 2020. But they had an outstanding quarterback named Matthew Stafford.  Stafford kept the pressure on the Cardinals the entire game, forcing Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray to force the ball and throw three interceptions in the process.

The Cardinals are designed to get the lead and then defend it. They have a pass rush that is among the best in the NFL and a pass defense that is better than advertised. But they have not done well against the run.

The Rams have not been behind in many games either. But in the two minutes in which the Rams were behind, it took quarterback Matthew Stafford just two minutes to drive 70 yards. Coming from behind is one of Stafford’s superpowers. That Matthew Stafford effect is making this LA Rams offense a force of its own to be reckoned with.

Separately, LA Rams head coach Sean McVay has engineered eight straight wins over the Arizona Cardinals. Quarterback Matthew Stafford defeated the Cardinals on the road with an inferior team in 2020. Now the Cardinals must face both when they come to SoFi Stadium this Sunday.