LA Rams – a Better Bet With Matthew Stafford?
January 30, 2021
It seems like it was a long time ago now, but the Los Angeles Rams were in the Super Bowl just two years ago (Super Bowl LIII). Former No. 1 pick Jared Goff looked like he might live up to the hype.
With Sean McVay leading the way, the future looked bright for the Rams.
The team believed in Goff so much that the Rams signed him to a four-year, $134 million contract extension following the loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. The Rams even guaranteed $110 million of it.
But then Goff and the expectations the team had for him came back down to Earth in 2019. For a time, things looked promising for Goff and the Rams during the 2020 season.
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Goff began to struggle down the stretch, and the team right along with him.
They limped into the playoffs, but the defense carried them to a win in the wildcard round. They were not as fortunate in the divisional round. However, one thing became crystal clear—the offense was holding the team back.
Defensively, the Rams were the best in the NFL. Offensively, their run game was not bad. But with the weapons Goff had at his disposal, the passing game should have been better.
After trading Goff and a boatload of draft capital to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford, it probably will be next year.
Will it be good enough to get the Los Angeles Rams into the NFC title game and Super Bowl in 2021, though?
The Future Looks Bright For the Los Angeles Rams With Matthew Stafford
The Los Angeles Rams gave, along with Goff, two first-round picks and a third-round pick to acquire a quarterback who will turn 33 before the start of the 2021 season.
The message the Rams are sending along with Goff and the picks is that they can win now—with the right quarterback. Jared Goff is not that quarterback, but Matthew Stafford is.
Goff was at his best when he had an elite running back, Todd Gurley, in the backfield with him. Defenses had to focus on stopping Gurley, which meant looser coverage in the passing game.
But when Gurley started to struggle and the run game became mediocre, Goff struggled.
On the other hand, Stafford is accustomed to not having much of a running game helping him out. However, his passing game with the Lions was always good.
True, it helped to have a guy like Calvin ‘Megatron’ Johnson helping out for the first few years.
But the passing game remained good even after Johnson retired. While Stafford did have some good receivers to work within the years following Johnson’s departure, the overall talent level amongst those receivers was not impressive.
However, Stafford and the Lions passing game usually was.
When you consider he threw for 4000+ yards this season with many guys who are ‘okay’ on their best day, one can’t help but wonder what he could do with the Rams receivers. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are one of the most dynamic duos in the league.
Josh Reynolds is an up-and-coming talent, and they have two good receiving tight ends in Tyler Higbee and Gerald Levert.
Stafford’s move to the Rams is reminiscent of Tom Brady’s to the Buccaneers. If he just had good wide receivers to work with, how good could he be?
With what the Los Angeles Rams paid for him, they must think Stafford can make them Super Bowl LVI contenders.
So – How Should You Bet?
In evaluating the Los Angeles Rams, the addition of Stafford is not the only thing to consider. They are currently projected to be way over the salary cap, which means they will probably need to cut a player or two they do not want to.
It would be easier to cover one of those losses if they had a first-round pick, but they do not. Free agency will not help them out much, which means they will need to hope a second or third-round pick can step up.
The defense should still be great, and the offense should be vastly improved. But enough to warrant betting on the Rams?
William Hill has the Los Angeles Rams listed with the third-best odds to win the NFC in 2021 (+650) and sixth-best to win Super Bowl LVI (+1300). Towards the end of the 2020 season, the Rams had better odds to win both (for a short time).
Next season’s team should be better, but that does not necessarily mean the Rams are a great bet to win either.