Matthew Stafford can cement legacy in Los Angeles

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Matthew Stafford can cement legacy in Los Angeles

Matthew Stafford is going to set career-highs in just about every category this season.

We know this because, if all goes according to plan, he's going to play a career-high 17 games in 2021.

But on a per-game basis, is there reason to believe the 33-year-old's best football is ahead of him in Los Angeles?

Sean McVay and Les Snead must think so.

And for many of the reasons discussed below, so do I.

But the primary reason I'm enthusiastic about the blockbuster move the Rams made before the Super Bowl doesn't have anything to do with Stafford. It has to do with a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Aaron's Era

Aaron Donald will turn 30 before the Rams see the field together again. He's an athletic marvel, and I venture into this discussion very hesitantly and humbly, fully expecting him to earn another six straight First-Team All-Pro honors.

Donald is under contract for four more years, by which time he'll have played his age 33 season, and realistically, I think that horizon is a fair approximation of what can be considered his prime.

Might he wreak havoc into his mid-and-late 30s? Sure.

However, the only man to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year after his 34th birthday was Reggie White in 1998 at 37-years-old.

If you can get better while Donald is still generating MVP discussion, and especially if you can get better at quarterback, I think it's incumbent upon the Rams to do so. Because his replacement isn't on the horizon, and even if he was, the likelihood of drafting said player is slim-to-none.

Clearly, this urgency isn't lost on the Rams.

Postseason Proof

"But Stafford's never won a playoff game," says the peanut gallery.

It's a bit paradoxical for a team that's in a Super Bowl window to be attempting to capitalize with a signal-caller who is 0-3 career in the postseason.

In fairness to Stafford, his last opportunity predates Harry and Meghan's engagement, and all three career chances were as the road team in the Wild Card round.

Andrew Whitworth hadn't won a playoff game before coming to Los Angeles, either, and that's worked out swimmingly.

Kneel Before The Comeback King

Perhaps Stafford's greatest attribute is his ability to steal victory from the jaws of defeat.

An astounding 42 percent of his career wins have been earned via fourth-quarter comebacks (31 out of 74), and no player has more such wins since Stafford's name was called atop the 2009 Draft.

While that's a welcome club to have in the bag, the goal for Stafford as a Ram should be to finish more games in victory formation than in the two-minute drill.

The Long Game

It was recently reported that Stafford played through a laundry list of wear and tear last season. And I asked Stafford how it feels to be seen as injury-prone, despite playing 16 games in nine of his 12 professional seasons, including all but one since 2011.

"Everybody out there is dealing with something," he said on the Rams Revealed podcast. "I'm excited to feel good going into this season and hopefully stay clean, stay healthy and help our team score a bunch of points."

Stafford confirmed that he'll be ready physically for whatever off-season program may come, and certainly training camp. To his point, as he joins forces with a contender, it should be stressed that his objective as a Ram is to be available for January and February. If some recalibrating needs to be done to prioritize protecting himself at the expense of a down, here's hoping that a change of scenery reinforces the need to play the long game in Los Angeles.

Great Expectations

So what are fair expectations of Stafford in his debut season in Horns?

To start, I'll take the under on his career-best total of 41 touchdowns in 2011, for a few reasons.

First, Jared Goff's 2018 was the closest approximation of this offense's apotheosis, and he passed for 32 touchdowns that season.

Second, if the Rams defense is even nearly as productive as they were a season ago, time and score may not necessitate putting up 30-plus points to win most weeks.

Thirdly, if Cam Akers and the running game deliver like we expect, 41 passing scores is a big number. Despite being an average offense in 2020, the Rams rushed for more touchdowns (19) than the scoring champion, Green Bay (16). They've averaged nearly 20 per season since McVay was hired.

What I'd be enthused about statistically is if Stafford can keep his interception percentage below 2.0, as he has for five consecutive seasons, and if he can set a new high-water mark for ANY/A (adjusted net yards per pass attempt).

But if I'm making a prediction for his traditional stat line in 2021, assuming 17 games?

67% completion | 4,900 yards | 35 touchdowns | 12 interceptions

MVP?

Would that be enough to catapult him into the NFL MVP conversation?

Depends on the Rams record, of course. But I wouldn't be surprised.

It's certainly not on Stafford's mind.

"Obviously, at the quarterback position, if you play well, your team's got a better chance of winning games. And when your team wins, people talk about you more," he said. "I'm not worried about all that kind of stuff. I'm just going to go out there and try to play as good of football as I can, put up a bunch of points for this offense, and cheer on what's a heck of a defense."

Best In West?

Whether or not he can outperform Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers, it's not an outrageous position for the Rams to feel like they now have the best quarterback in the division.

Russell Wilson is more accomplished and statistically impressive; no one is arguing otherwise.

But Wilson against the Rams and Wilson against the rest of the NFL are two different quarterbacks, and in that context, I think it's perfectly legitimate to say, "Give me McVay and Stafford and I'll take my chances."

As an aside, it's also remarkable that there was a time this off-season – and that time still might come – when Kyler Murray could have been the only returning quarterback in the West.

Help Him Help You

This isn't just about Stafford making Los Angeles better, though.

I think we all believe that Sean McVay and the Rams can bring out the best the quarterback has to offer.

Mike Golic, Jr. summarized this as succinctly as anyone in the wake of the trade, delineating all the things we know improve the performance of NFL quarterbacks and how McVay's Rams have stayed on the leading edge.

From pre-snap motion to play-action diet to some of the best in the world at scheming and executing yards after the catch, there's ample reason to believe Stafford is one of the off-season's biggest individual winners.

That, as much as anything, is why Stafford's best might be ahead of him, not behind in Detroit.

Can't Spell Legacy Without "L.A."

Which begs the question: How long is the horizon for Stafford and the Rams?

Let's take the optimistic view that the plan comes to fruition and the longtime Lion delivers the best quarterback play the Rams have enjoyed since returning to Los Angeles.

While his contract covers 2021 and 2022, it's hard to imagine both sides wouldn't want to extend the relationship so long as that championship window is open.

Would there be another proven commodity available at quarterback to steward the rest of Donald's prime (and that of Jalen Ramsey, for that matter)? If and when McVay ever drafts a quarterback, would he be groomed and ready by 2023?

Would Stafford want to transition to a new system for his late-30s? Or would the thought of retiring as the all-time passing leader of two different franchises be appealing? What might an All-Pro nod, an MVP honor, and especially a ring do for his standing within this Golden Era of quarterbacks?

Those are questions without concrete answers, of course. But they frame the next two seasons for the Rams, as well as Stafford's opportunity to improve his legacy.
 

bubbaramfan

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With current Ram centers unable to handle bull rushing DT's and blitzng LB's, and the loss of Malcolm Brown, Rams best blocking RB, and a current stable of clueless RB's on how to recognize blitz', none of this will happen.
 
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Merlin

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If they solve a few positions they should run the table this year. Stafford represents a massive boost and people are going to be very happy with him.

The Stafford deal has a good chance to go down as one of our greatest trades IMO. But they do need to ensure this OL can keep him healthy. He doesn't have Goff's gumby-like ability to take shots from defenders.
 

FarNorth

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Matthew Stafford can cement legacy in Los Angeles

Those are questions without concrete answers, of course. But they frame the next two seasons for the Rams, as well as Stafford's opportunity to improve his legacy.
Sorry but this is mostly speculation if not puffery. Up to now, Stafford and legacy are words that would not be used in the same sentence except by his fans. Stafford himself was more sober and cautious in his press conference with the Rams. He knows there's a lot to do first and that he can't do it alone.

Of course Stafford has a chance to change all this. Hope he lights it up for the Rams, and maybe he will, but a lot still needs to come together. And it's not just Stafford, it's the offense around him.

Hopeful? Yeah, OK. But right now still feels premature to me to predict a grand level of success for the Rams' offense until we see more in the offseason and draft, and/or until the team shows it on the field.
 

So Ram

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If they solve a few positions they should run the table this year. Stafford represents a massive boost and people are going to be very happy with him.

The Stafford deal has a good chance to go down as one of our greatest trades IMO. But they do need to ensure this OL can keep him healthy. He doesn't have Goff's gumby-like ability to take shots from defenders.

Well Imo is The OLine will be a lot better with Stafford.That was one of the reasons for the trade.
Wolford brought other dimensions just the couple of games he played.

2021 might not be the season to load up in the draft ? BVBP - never say never. Upgrading the roster always
 

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Rams' Matthew Stafford Can Play into His Late 30s After Trade, GM Les Snead Says

Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead hopes he found both his quarterback of the present and semi-distant future in Matthew Stafford.

“I don’t think we did it thinking two years,” said Snead of the trade to acquire Stafford on the 11 Personnel podcast. “Based on his age, you can legitimately think five to seven, eight years if you look at what Drew (Brees) has done.

“With quarterbacks of his pedigree, a lot of those guys have played into their late 30s, for sure. So that was definitely the vision with (Stafford).”

Stafford has two years and $43 million remaining on the contract he originally signed with the Detroit Lions in 2017. The deal offers both Stafford and the Rams a two-year window to assess whether he can help lead the team to the next level.

The Rams traded Jared Goff and two first-round picks for Stafford, the type of all-in move typically done by a franchise that sees itself as a Super Bowl contender.

Interestingly enough, Goff has more Pro Bowl selections (two) in five seasons than Stafford (one) has in 12 seasons. The Rams' trade was an all-in bet that Stafford's numbers will improve in a situation better than Detroit, where he was often surrounded by porous offensive lines and below-average skill-position players (Calvin Johnson as the exception).

If the bet proves correct, there's no reason to believe Stafford will see a significant decline anytime soon. Quarterbacks are increasingly playing well deep into their 30s and even early 40s, with Aaron Rodgers winning league MVP last season at age 37.

Stafford still has at least a handful of years with prime-level potential, provided he's able to stay healthy. In 2019, Stafford missed eight games due to a spinal injury and he played most of last season dealing with various ailments.
 

PARAM

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....Rodgers (arguably the best QB in the NFL) vs. Stafford the last 5 years.

Missed games: Rodgers 9, Stafford 8
QB rating: Rodgers 103.6, Stafford 96.0
Yards passing: Rodgers 18,846, Stafford 19,133
TDs: Rodgers 155, Stafford 119
Ints: Rodgers 24, Stafford 46
Atts: Rodgers 2540, Stafford 2533
Comp: Rodgers 1652, Stafford 1652
Comp%: Rodgers 65.0, Stafford 65.2
Yds/Att: Rodgers 7.42, Stafford 7.55
Sacked: Rodgers 162, Stafford 180
Tm Rush Att: GBay 1947, Detroit 1891
Tm Rush Yds: GBay 9005, Detroit 7339
Yds/Car: GBay 4.6, Detroit 3.9
Tm Wins: GBay 49, Detroit 32

It should be interesting to see if and by how much, Stafford's numbers improve with the Rams offense (and defense).
 

CGI_Ram

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....Rodgers (arguably the best QB in the NFL) vs. Stafford the last 5 years.

Missed games: Rodgers 9, Stafford 8
QB rating: Rodgers 103.6, Stafford 96.0
Yards passing: Rodgers 18,846, Stafford 19,133
TDs: Rodgers 155, Stafford 119
Ints: Rodgers 24, Stafford 46
Atts: Rodgers 2540, Stafford 2533
Comp: Rodgers 1652, Stafford 1652
Comp%: Rodgers 65.0, Stafford 65.2
Yds/Att: Rodgers 7.42, Stafford 7.55
Sacked: Rodgers 162, Stafford 180
Tm Rush Att: GBay 1947, Detroit 1891
Tm Rush Yds: GBay 9005, Detroit 7339
Yds/Car: GBay 4.6, Detroit 3.9
Tm Wins: GBay 49, Detroit 32

It should be interesting to see if and by how much, Stafford's numbers improve with the Rams offense (and defense).
Interesting...

Missed games: Rodgers 9, Stafford 8
QB rating: Rodgers 103.6, Stafford 96.0
Yards passing: Rodgers 18,846, Stafford 19,133
TDs: Rodgers 155, Stafford 119
Ints: Rodgers 24, Stafford 46
Atts: Rodgers 2540, Stafford 2533
Comp: Rodgers 1652, Stafford 1652
Comp%: Rodgers 65.0, Stafford 65.2
Yds/Att: Rodgers 7.42, Stafford 7.55

That is 5 GREEN each.

Then... factor Detroit is the crappier team...

Sacked: Rodgers 162, Stafford 180
Tm Rush Att: GBay 1947, Detroit 1891
Tm Rush Yds: GBay 9005, Detroit 7339
Yds/Car: GBay 4.6, Detroit 3.9
Tm Wins: GBay 49, Detroit 32

Conclusion; Stafford > Rodgers.

 

CoachAllred

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Interesting...

Missed games: Rodgers 9, Stafford 8
QB rating: Rodgers 103.6, Stafford 96.0
Yards passing: Rodgers 18,846, Stafford 19,133
TDs: Rodgers 155, Stafford 119
Ints: Rodgers 24, Stafford 46
Atts: Rodgers 2540, Stafford 2533
Comp: Rodgers 1652, Stafford 1652
Comp%: Rodgers 65.0, Stafford 65.2
Yds/Att: Rodgers 7.42, Stafford 7.55

That is 5 GREEN each.

Then... factor Detroit is the crappier team...

Sacked: Rodgers 162, Stafford 180
Tm Rush Att: GBay 1947, Detroit 1891
Tm Rush Yds: GBay 9005, Detroit 7339
Yds/Car: GBay 4.6, Detroit 3.9
Tm Wins: GBay 49, Detroit 32

Conclusion; Stafford > Rodgers.

Like most football fans, I never paid attention to Stafford. I mean who other then lion fans watches lion games?
If you had ask me before the trade what I thought of him, I would have said, eh he's ok.
But as soon as you start watching game film and paying attention, your opinion changes quiet a bit.
Why as a Ram fan, do I feel like we just found a 100.00 bill laying on the sidewalk and are
walking off, bill in hand, and a sly smile on our face?
 
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