Why Matthew Stafford’s best is yet to come for LA Rams offense

Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports /
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Matthew Stafford
Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

Reason III: Rams offense no long as dependant upon the running game

The LA Rams offense had been built on the running ability of star rusher Todd Gurley in 2017 when head coach Sean McVay took over the LA Rams. Over the next four seasons, that was the template used to optimize the offense’s ability to run the ball and to give then-quarterback Jared Goff certain looks on defense.

But the arrival of veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford has changed much of those offensive fundamentals. Stafford prefers the shotgun formation to a steady diet of play-action. He likes to see the defense and their pre-snap adjustments and to have a great distance from which to throw before the pass rush arrives.

More shotgun means less running. The reason? Shotgun formations place the running back further from the line of scrimmage, and therefore it takes the runner longer to get to the hole and running lanes.

Shotgun proficiency

While you may view that as detrimental to the Rams’ offensive performance, it’s actually an enhancement. You see, it liberates the offense from certain pre-scripted formations. Have you noticed that the Rams go empty backfield now, and have positive plays from that formation? Things have changed in LA.

While the Rams may no longer depend on faking the run, the offense continues to make excellent use of formations that appear to be run only by committing wide receivers to the backfield and running backs to the wideout spot.  The Rams now set their passing plays in running formation camouflage and that has proven to be very effective for Stafford and will continue to be even more effective as the season progresses.