Matthew Stafford must lead the LA Rams as though he’s been here before

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams News Matthew Stafford
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Work in process

Putting pieces on the roster, and even onto the football field in training camp, is the easy part. But this team was out to win against the toughest and fiercest teams in the NFL. That required more than just showing up for games. It required that everyone on the offense instinctively know how each player on the field will recognize, diagnose, and react to what the defense throws at them.

That level of synchronization takes time to work out. Countless hours of training camp and practice. But even then, some connections happen instantly, while others take longer to foster. Fortunately, Stafford quickly connected with veteran wide receiver Cooper Kupp. That connection was almost instantaneous, as the pair accounted for 367 yards and five touchdowns in just their first three games of the 2021 NFL season.

Other receivers get in on the action

It was not all on Stafford and Kupp. In Week 3, Stafford connected with DeSean Jackson for 120 yards and a touchdown. The very next week, Stafford found second-year wide receiver Van Jefferson for 90 yards and a touchdown.  The process of featuring a different receiver helped the offense compensate for a less than hoped-for running attack.

But the Rams suffered injuries. Injuries to rookies Tutu Atwell and Jacob Harris ended their seasons before they ever began. But the most impactful injury was that to WR Robert Woods, a strong contributor in all aspects of the game. His role was filled by recently signed free agent WR Odell Beckham Jr.  While OBJ would eventually learn the offense, his promotion to the WR2 role meant another round of patience while the receiver and quarterback synched up. Eventually, the pair did achieve that instinctive understanding, and now the offense is very dangerous heading into Super Bowl LVI.