The LA Rams now have the oldest starting quarterback in the NFL, but the way Matthew Stafford is playing, he appears to have discovered his own personal fountain of youth. The LA Rams sought out the wiley veteran Stafford as soon as the Detroit Lions hinted that they were open to trading him away for the right price.
The LA Rams met that price, and in doing so acquired a veteran quarterback who would go on to lead this team to a victory in Super Bowl 56. That was just his first year with the team. There is no telling where he can take this team for the rest of his career.
But I think Rams fans are going to be excited to find out.
Matthew Stafford is the healthiest that he has ever been since joining the LA Rams. While there are many reasons to look for the Rams to bounce back this year, that tops the list, hands down. But it will take more than a healthy Stafford to lead the LA Rams back to the promised land. He will need to have the safety of an undisturbed pocket to throw from. Well, that is just what he got in Week 1. He got real protection from his offensive line, and it was spectacular.
The Matthew Stafford effect
The bonus of a player who is elite in the NFL is not just what that player does for the team. Rather, there is even more value in the way that player elevates the performance of players around him. That is what veteran quarterback brings to the Rams offense each game.
We know that LA Rams head coach Sean McVay's routes and schemes can counter almost any defense, but the advantage of Stafford in the offense is that he takes the plays, and then improvises an extra layer of 'Wow!' to each play. Just look at the play by Detroit Lions quarterback Jarred Goff in Week 1, and then compare it to what Matthew Stafford did in similar circumstances:
Matthew Stafford is not Superman. Nor is he a miracle worker, who can make things appear out of nothing. He is simply one of the best NFL veteran quarterbacks in the game today, and his ability extends beyond completing passes. He elevates the level of play from his receivers:
You can get a solid perspective of just how effective Stafford was in Week 1 by tuning in on Colin Cowherd's video podcast with guest NFL analyst and commentator Mark Sanchez. The segment featuring the LA Rams victory over the Seattle Seahawks starts at the 11:50 mark in the embedded video below:
Stafford sliced and diced up the Seahawks' secondary with almost no highlight receivers. And yet, the Rams' offense put up 334 passing yards and had two receivers cross the 100+ yards barrier. The most ironic aspect of the Rams' offense is the fact that the team featured rookie WR Puka Nacua and third-year WR Tutu Atwell.
Now the 49ers defense has to second guess themselves. Will the Rams double down and throw to rookie WR Puka Nacua in Week 2? Will the Rams try to stretch the field with WR Tutu Atwell? Or will the Rams revert to their tried and tested passing options like TE Tyler Higbee? Or could the Rams stump the 49ers completely by rolling out a 12 personnel package for Week 2?
As long as Matthew Stafford is healthy and upright, the LA Rams have a chance to win every game. So the game plan for the LA Rams becomes quite simple. Protect Matthew Stafford, and let him slice up the 49ers secondary.