What will LA Rams extension of Matthew Stafford mean over long haul?
Speedsters, scrappers, and fighters
It was obvious that the LA Rams envisioned an offense with Matthew Stafford’s cannon of an arm as one that would need speedy wide receivers to stretch the football field. Obvious, because the LA Rams first two roster transactions that were not about re-signing former key players involved small speedsters at the wide receiver position.
The team’s only new free agent signing for 2021 was to add veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson to the LA Rams offense. Jackson was oft-injured in the past with the Philadelphia Eagles, but could still cover long distances with his blazing speed. The team followed that up by using their first selection in the 2021 NFL Draft to double down on another smallish speedster at wide receiver by the name of Tutu Atwell.
While great, in theory, the Rams’ experience did not prove nearly the return from the role worthy of that much investment. Instead, the team found far more value in scrappy receivers like tight end Tyler Higbee and wide receivers Van Jefferson and Ben Skowronek. All were able to give Stafford options at various depths and did very well at advancing the football after the catch.
But the Rams’ eyes popped a bit when they witnessed what a player who fights for the ball, Odell Beckham Jr., adds to this offense. While a slow starter in the team’s offense at midseason, Beckham quickly heated up to become a touchdown machine whenever he was targeted, scoring five touchdowns in eight games for the Rams.
The best of the bunch was veteran WR Cooper Kupp, whose epic 2021 NFL season led the NFL in receiving yards (1,947), receiving touchdowns (16), and catches (145). That is the NFL Triple Crown and is extremely rare
But the Rams see even more potential in 2022. What if the Rams could combine the route running and toughness of WR Robert Woods with the feistiness of a fighter like OBJ? The result would look a lot like wide receiver Allen Robinson, who the LA Rams added this year. This all spells trouble for the NFC West, and the rest of the NFL. So what about the rivals of the NFC West does this do?