MMR: Matthew Stafford Quiets Critics in Win Against Buccaneers

by Blaine Grisak
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“Matthew Stafford can’t win the big one.”

“The re-casting of Matthew Stafford as a guy who didn’t have help in Detroit when he spent seven years with CALVIN JOHNSON is so strange.” – ESPN’s Bill Barnwell

“He’s just not tough enough. I don’t think he’s tough enough to be coached hard.” – ESPN’s Tedi Bruschi

“Nobody — and we mean nobody — is better at padding his stats than Stafford.” – DeadSpin’s Rob Parker

“The Matthew Stafford hype is getting out of control.” – PFF’s Sam Munson

Whether it was a product of the hot take media, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford took a lot of criticism as an overhyped quarterback that the Rams overpaid for.

Stafford couldn’t win the big one. After all, he was 8-67 in his career against teams that finished the season with a winning record. Stafford was 0-3 in the playoffs. Despite having Calvin Johnson for seven year in his career, Stafford wasted it. Could it have been possible that the Detroit Lions organization failed not one great player, but two?

“I don’t want to rehash all the years I was there to be honest with you,” said Stafford. But I just know that I feel grateful to step in the huddle with the guys that I have. I’m enjoying every minute of it and trying to make the most of it and seeing where it will take us.”

To say there was a monkey on Stafford’s back heading into Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was a severe understatement. These were the games that the Rams brought in Stafford for. To lose this game would give in to the idea that the trade wasn’t worth it. After all, Jared Goff won big games with the Rams.

Sure, there will be bigger games ahead, but the defending Super Bowl champions in Week 3 would be a good barometer for how good the Rams were and if Stafford could in fact handle the pressure.

Stafford started slow and was maybe lucky to not get intercepted in the first quarter after sailing a pass high over Cooper Kupp. The jitters were obvious, but once Stafford settled in, he and the Rams offense could not be stopped.

Short pass left to Sony Michel for six yards.

Short pass right to Tyler Higbee for 12 yards

Deep pass to Cooper Kupp for 22 yards.

Pass left to Van Jefferson for 11 yards.

Short pass left to Higbee for five yards.

Short pass middle to Robert Woods for six yards.

Pass to Tyler Higbee for six yards.

Short pass to Higbee for six yards. Touchdown.

It was a 14 play drive that went 95 yards. Matthew Stafford completed all eight of his passes and gave the Rams a 7-0 lead. After starting the game 1-for-6, Stafford put on a clinic. From the second quarter on, Stafford was 26/32 for 336 yards and four touchdowns. Most importantly, he had zero turnovers and zero interceptions.

The last time that Stafford threw for four touchdowns came in a 31-28 win with the Lions in 2016. The opponent that day? The Los Angeles Rams.

As Aaron Rodgers would say, “How can you not be romantic about football?”

Through the NFL’s first three weeks, Stafford ranks fifth in passing yards, second in touchdown passes, and second in quarterback rating. He ranks first in overall QBR.

While we’ve always known Cooper Kupp as a very good wide receiver, Kupp leads the NFL in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Stafford has elevated Kupp into the top-10 wide receiver conversation.

Stafford knew what was on the line this offseason. That’s why when he hurt his thump in a training camp practice after banging it on a helmet, he came back and practiced the very next day in a joint practice against the Cowboys. Stafford looks like the quarterback that everyone knew he was. Sean McVay is the offensive genius that everyone knew he was. Both guys are having more fun than they have in a few years.

“What he’s done through three games, I think his resumé speaks for itself,” said McVay. “He’s done a great job through these three games. And that’s all he can really do. I think he’s just seamlessly accommodated himself or really acclimated himself to being in our building.”

The Matthew Stafford hype was warranted. As it stands, the Rams quarterback is second in Vegas’ odds for MVP and if he continues his current level of play, there’s no reason not to think that he can’t surpass Kyler Murray.

The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Buccaneers 34-24 on Sunday and Matthew Stafford looked good while doing it. The monkey is off his back and it’s that type of win that will give this team a scary amount of swagger and propel them to special things.

Every time we go out there it’s a big one,” Stafford said. You know, they’re Super Bowl champs. It was a big challenge for us. Nice to go out there and play our game. We went out there and executed.”

“Everybody is always having fun together,” said Aaron Donald. “And last time we had a team like that, we went to the Super Bowl.”

The NFL better be on watch because for Matthew Stafford and the Rams, Sunday was only the beginning.

Los Angeles Rams Three Word Game Review: Rams For Real?

When it came to Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Rams had a lot more to prove than the Bucs did. That’s what happens when you’re the defending Super Bowl champions. The Buccaneers had won 10 straight regular season games and the last NFC team that they lost to was the Rams last November.

This was a game that simply wasn’t close during the second half. The Rams came right out in the third quarter and struck for a touchdown to DeSean Jackson. A short time later, Cooper Kupp caught his second touchdown of the day and Matt Gay kicked a field goal to go up three scores. The Rams will have another test against the Arizona Cardinals. However, Sunday was a game that many had the Rams losing before the season and last week. They won it comfortably.

Los Angeles Rams Player of the Game: Matthew Stafford

There are a couple of options for the Game ball or Player of the Game. However, Stafford is probably deserving for this one as well. For the first time since 2016 he threw for four touchdowns and zero interceptions. That came in a game in which there were a lot of eyes on Stafford and a lot of questions being asked. Stafford answered those questions and then some.

This is no slight on Jared Goff, but it’s so obvious how Stafford elevates the offense. Whether it’s a slight shoulder movement to open up DeSean Jackson deep or giving McVay confidence to not call the first quarter timeouts. The Rams won comfortably on Sunday and Stafford was a big reason for it.

5 Takeaways of the Game

1. Defense Proves Itself Against a Good Opponent

To add to that, the Rams defense has gotten nothing but criticism from some of the fanbase through two weeks. This is despite not allowing 20 points against the Colts or Bears. The defense was on pace for that once again, but a garbage time touchdown put the Buccaneers over the mark.

Tom Brady threw for 432 yards. However, yards aside, this defense makes plays where it matters – on the scoreboard. The Buccaneers went three-and-out on their opening two drives and punted four times. The defense remains perfect on stopping fourth down conversions. This is a league that has rules dictated towards the offense. If you watch the Chiefs, Packers, or other top contenders, the Rams have the best defense of the group.

2. DeSean Jackson is Officially Welcomed to LA

DeSean Jackson wasn’t involved at all in the Los Angeles Rams gameplan during the first few weeks. However, against the Buccaneers, Jackson was unleashed. Jackson and Stafford finally connected on the deep ball and he finished with three receptions for 120 yards. Coming into the game, Jackson has played in nine games against his former teams. In those contests, he had 39 catches for 836 yards and five touchdowns. Jackson is the master of the revenge game.

With that said, it took three opportunities and a blown coverage for Stafford and Jackson to finally connect. Stafford underthrew Jackson on the first two opportunities. The first one was simply under thrown, and a little more either would have resulted in a touchdown or pass interference. The second miss occurred due to Stafford not being able to step into the throw. Once these two find their range, it’s going to be a scary connection.

3. Offensive Line Continues to Play Well

The Buccaneers defensive front is scary. Vita Vea is one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL. Shaq Barrett has become one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers on the edge. Joe Tryon is a promising rookie with talent. The Rams offensive line shut them down.

Stafford was sacked one time on Sunday. Sony Michel was given holes to run through when he needed it. Stafford and the offense are playing well, but it starts up front. There were a lot of questions with that group heading into the season and they continue to exceed expectations.

4. SoFi Stadium Was Rockin’

Los Angeles has gotten a lot of criticism for not showing up for their teams. There were times at the Colosseum in which away fans took over the stadium. However, that was not the case on Sunday against the Buccaneers. On the broadcast, it was loud. The fans were having an effect on the game. On the first possession, the Buccaneers took a false start penalty on 3rd-and-1.

The atmosphere at SoFi was right up there with the return to LA and the game against the Chiefs in 2018. The Rams had home field advantage and that’s not something that away teams have had to experience in the past. Rams fans should up and it paid off.

5. A Special Feeling With This Team

Prior to the season, there was an excitement with the Los Angeles Rams. When Stafford his Van Jefferson against the Bears, that excitement continued. However, it was just the Bears. The Rams have now beaten the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the defending Super Bowl Champions, and outplayed them handily.

It’s hard to explain, but there is just a special excitement with this team. Aaron Donald is hugging Stafford after the game and saying, “I love you, man.” Cooper Kupp and Stafford have a QB-WR connection that isn’t seen very often. The offensive line and defensive lines are playing very well. We knew before the season that this team was capable of special things. This win just confirms it and it’s going to be exciting to see where they go.

 

 

 

 

 

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