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Should Rams Fans Be Worried About Matthew Stafford?

  • The Draft Network
  • November 16, 2021
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Monday Night Football brought a fitting conclusion to what was a wildly unpredictable weekend of football when the San Francisco 49ers thoroughly dominated the Los Angeles Rams, winning by a final score of 31-10. The Rams were debuting a new-look roster filled with superstars following the recent acquisitions of Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr., but both players were in less than ideal form in Monday's loss. Perhaps what was most concerning about what transpired is that it was Los Angeles' second blowout defeat in as many weeks, following last Sunday's poor showing against the Tennessee Titans. 

There have been several disappointments throughout Los Angeles' two-game losing streak, but none more haunting than the current play of starting quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has struggled mightily as of late. In back-to-back defeats, Stafford has completed 57-of-89 passes for 537 yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions. The interception totals are not only concerning, but the details are even worse. Two of those four interceptions were returned for touchdowns by the defense, and another one occurred from Los Angeles' end zone and set the Titans up inside their 5-yard line. Stafford is literally handing points and possessions to the opposition. Prior to the primetime defeat to the Titans, Stafford hadn't thrown more than one interception in a single contest as a member of the Rams. He's now done it in consecutive contests.

Stafford and the Rams now find themselves at a crossroads. They've been punched in the mouth in consecutive contests and failed to respond in an acceptable fashion. There are also several reasons to think their passing offense may continue to struggle as they navigate through their new surroundings. Losing do-it-all wide receiver Robert Woods to an unfortunate season-ending injury certainly had implications and a negative impact on Stafford's showing against the 49ers. Stafford and Beckham are not yet on the same page, and that chemistry will take time to develop as Beckham continues to acclimate to his new home and scheme. Beckham was on the field for just 15 offensive snaps and caught two-of-three targets for 18 yards. A miscommunication between quarterback and receiver led to Stafford's first interception of the day. 

Depth at the receiver position is also cause for concern. Rookie seventh-round pick Ben Skowronek played a healthy 42 snaps in Monday's loss but lacks the look of a receiver that should see such significant playing time. Skowronek's involvement in the offense will undoubtedly diminish as Beckham prepares to shoulder more of the workload, but Sean McVay loves to spread things out, and in the wake of the injury to Woods, the Rams no longer possess four capable NFL wide receivers on their roster.

Two horrid performances don't erase what Stafford and this offense have accomplished throughout the majority of this campaign. Prior to their Week 9 letdown against the Titans, Stafford was largely considered a strong candidate for this year's Most Valuable Player honor, and with good reason. That potential is still present. McVay and Stafford are capable of recapturing that early-season form, but the foundational issues are very real and concerning, as is the adversity they must overcome in an offense without Woods in three-receiver sets. Los Angeles must do all it can to prevent the last two performances from snowballing into something worse.

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