Rams Trade For Matthew Stafford: Can They Win A Super Bowl?
The Los Angeles Rams completed the first blockbuster trade of the NFL offseason. Los Angeles sent two first-round picks, a third and Jared Goff to acquire Matthew Stafford. But can they win a Super Bowl now that Stafford is in town?
By Tayyib Abu
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It is akin to a Baseball trade when a team sells the farm for a player who can bring them a championship. Unlike Baseball, Football is intrinsically a team game; also, there is a hard salary cap in the NFL. Therefore teams need to build through the draft. Not the Rams though, after offering first rounders for Jalen Ramsey and Brandin Cooks; the Rams once again roll the dice for a player who they believe can bring a title back to Tinseltown.
What Is L.A. Getting With Stafford?
In short, the Rams are getting a brilliant quarterback. Matthew Stafford is an incredible player. Firstly, Stafford's arm is still special. Once Matt Patricia was put out of his misery, Stafford got back to his gunslinging best.
Stafford's four complete games under interim coach Darrell Bevell saw the Georgia alum post a passer rating north of 100. His adjusted yards gained were also higher in the final four weeks, considering the Lions lacked great YAC receivers, Stafford was airing it out even more than usual in the last month of the season.
Moreover, there is enough velocity on Stafford's throws to drive the ball into tight windows. The incredible no-look pass he threw against Tennessee demonstrated that the zip on the ball is still there.
The other key attribute the Rams are getting is that Stafford is a leader. Even as a rookie he was bossing his veteran teammates around. Jared Goff always came across as passive, Stafford is not that. He is a fearless leader that can lead the Rams offense on the field. Stafford is the alpha that the Rams were desperate to find. He also excels in indoor stadiums.
How Will the Rams Use Stafford?
Sean McVay will never change; he will always want to establish the run out of passing formations. The Rams ranked seventh in rushing attempts in the regular season. McVay intends to create a run game, so the defense counteracts by stacking the tackle box. That then makes space for receivers to run behind the tackle box; thus, it provides the quarterback with good throwing windows. It creates wide-open windows on hard play-action plays.
Stafford's skill means the Rams can move back to a more balanced, traditional shotgun passing offense. With Goff, it was almost always play-action and bootlegs to get Goff a big window to throw in. Stafford doesn't need that.
The Rams can become much more aggressive in their playcalling. With Van Jefferson's speed, the vertical threat will feature in Los Angeles. Sean McVay has already spoken about calling more shot-plays with Stafford.
What that means is after establishing the run through Cam Akers, the Rams can push the ball downfield on second and short. The real advantage with Stafford comes if the run-game stutters. That was where Goff's shortcomings became apparent. Stafford spent 12 years slinging it around in Detroit with no run-game. That is when McVay and Stafford can go to work.
The Rams possess a diverse group of receivers that they can use in a variety of alignments.
Van Jefferson provides the vertical speed threat, Robert Woods is the physical catcher who can grind for extra yardage meanwhile Cooper Kupp is brilliant running across the field. The Rams can even use two tight-end sets to prey on a weak-side linebacker while using a wideout as the primary receiver. Stafford's talent opens up a Pandora's Box for Sean McVay.
That is a mouthwatering prospect.
The Risk With Trading For Stafford
The Rams trading for Stafford arrives with one big problem. Los Angeles is now on the clock in its championship window.
Stafford will not play ‘til his forties like Drew Brees and Tom Brady; Stafford is in L.A. for at least two years, maybe one more on top of that. The Rams mortgaged their future as well as creating cap chaos for a three-year run at the big one.
Sean McVay was the primary driving force in bringing Stafford to L.A. McVay pushed his front office to make a move as he firmly feels Stafford is the man. The genius offensive wunderkind owns a high level of self-confidence. He clearly thinks he owns the offensive intellect to take the Rams offense to another level.
Now McVay has put himself under pressure; immense pressure. The Rams risked it all with this move; it is only a success if they parade the Lombardi Trophy in downtown Los Angeles within the next 2-3 years. At some point, the ticking clock will expire, and no-one wants to be around for that without a Super Bowl ring.
The Bottom Line
The Rams' recent success has come despite them leveraging their future first-round picks. They continue to extend this championship window. With Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and Cooper Kupp already on the roster, Los Angeles adds another A-list superstar to its team.
If McVay truly felt they were an elite quarterback away from being champions, this move needed to happen. There is no tomorrow in Hollywood; it is all about the present.
Matthew Stafford is the headline attraction in Los Angeles; the 2021 Rams will be the box-office attraction. Will Sean McVay's second attempt be better than the first? Only time will tell, but for right now it is the best move the Rams could make.
There's a new leading man in Hollywood; the world can't wait for this movie to hit the screens in September.
See our End of Season NFL Power Rankings here. Should the Rams move up after the Stafford trade?