Matthew Stafford’s Impact on the Los Angeles Rams’ Culture 

Matthew Stafford’s Impact on the Los Angeles Rams’ Culture 

by October 29, 2021 1 comment

Why can’t Matthew Stafford get the Detroit Lions to the playoffs? Many fans wanted an answer to that question. It was thought that he lacked the skill to be as good as other players at the time. However, it is evident now that he is a top player, but the front office could not put pieces around him to allow him to get to the playoffs. The Los Angeles Rams now have Stafford as their man behind center, and it is clear to a growing following that Stafford is and always will be a leading quarterback. With Sean McVay finally having his choice at the helm, it is Super Bowl or bust for the Rams. 

Stafford Transforms the Locker Room

With a third of the season in the books, it is time to look at the new Rams and why the offense has taken a new leap forward with Stafford under center, as opposed to the stagnant Rams with Jared Goff at the helm. For the first time, McVay looks at peace on the sideline and is freed to do something he has not done in years, which is coach. It was reported two years ago that McVay had to stay in Goff’s headset pre-snap to tell him the coverage and the audibles.

With a veteran in the locker room and on the field, it has freed McVay up to focus more on coaching the players on the sideline and giving more focus to other aspects of the game. The 13-year veteran of the game has seen most, if not all, of it on the field and knows how to correct himself when need be.

Taking a look at the team as a whole, from the pre and post-game press conference to teammates and staff interactions, it is evident that the Rams team has a renewed optimism and energy coming into each week. This is a credit to Stafford’s veteran presence in the locker room. Stafford has completely changed the energy by taking the reins and running. Stafford is in charge, and everyone on the field trusts his leadership and matches his passion for every play.

Goff was never able to lead the Rams as Stafford has seemingly done effortlessly. This is life in the Rams. Stafford can be seen on the sidelines talking and hyping up the offense while the defense is on the field and vice versa. The defense is excited to have an offense, moving the ball up the field. This enthusiasm has been missing since their Super Bowl run when Goff had arguably his best year. Even then, there were times, he was aloof and alone off to the side or with McVay, lacking the necessary leadership.  

Comparing Stafford to Goff in 2020

Looking back at last season’s stats, the Lions had a better offensive team than the Rams by some matrixes. For reference, the Lions had more points scored than the Rams. It is hard to imagine that the talented Rams did not score more points than the Chicago Bears in the 2020 season. With Goff throwing roughly 150 fewer yards by the end of the season than Stafford, the Rams had substantially more receiving talent than the Lions that season. Stafford was always on the run while dropping back due to his offensive line being one of the weakest in the league. Meanwhile, Goff had a top-10 line in the league offense for most of his career. Stafford again outranked Goff in touchdowns last season with 27, compared to Goff’s 20.

If you want a safe and reliable quarterback under center, Goff is your guy, but if you want a quarterback to push the ball downfield and be a leader in the locker room and on the field, Stafford is your man. It is clear that Goff does not fit as nicely with the way McVay wants to run the scheme. McVay loves to use the play-action at all opportunities on the field to get the defense out of sorts. He needs a quarterback willing to take risks and move the ball downfield.

In the 2020 season, although they ran the second most play-action plays in the league, Goff was skittish and nervous in the pocket, hurting his ability to execute the play action. After watching the Rams-Dolphins Week 8 game from the 2020 season, possibly, the final straw for Goff in a Los Angeles Ram’s jersey, Goof showed his propensity to have a check down for minimum yards if his first read was not there, giving up on the long ball. 

Stafford Transforms Rams 2021 Offense

After the first seven games, Stafford has shown he will push the pace and stand in the pocket, to deliver a strike downfield. Having a veteran presence in the area with the mental fortitude to stand in the pocket and go through his reads, while not constantly checking down and waiting for his reads to get open has changed the Rams’ gameplay. With Stafford having a cannon for an arm and the ability to anticipate the movement of the defense and his receivers, the options have grown for McVay’s play-calling. Looking at the film from this year’s Rams team versus the last few seasons, Stafford has already had an impact, throwing the ball down the field and completing the passes at one of his highest percentages of his career. 

Considering how defenses planned to beat the Rams, it is evident that they were fine giving up the open check down as long as they covered the receivers down the field long enough for Goff not to see the play develop. Furthermore, Goff only attempted deep passes of more than 20 yards down the field, an astounding 7.8 percent of the time, ranking dead last by the end of the season. In comparison, Stafford was in the top-10 for attempted passes down the field.

This is a profound change for McVay. Having a quarterback who only dumped off the ball, never moved down the field quickly allowed the defense to bring the safeties down as they do not have to worry about giving up an extended play. This no longer can happen with Stafford at quarterback because he loves throwing downfield and showing off his rocket arm, and safeties have to respect his abilities.


McVay was meant to coach a player like Stafford, and now he finally can. Everyone should watch out for the Rams and take note of their newfound excitement and enthusiasm. Stafford, by nature a gunslinger, is the answer to McVay’s prayers. Watching the Rams play football this year, it is clear that they made the right choice in trading for Stafford, who complements the play calling of McVay, and embodies a true leader on and off the field, to take them to the Super Bowl.

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