Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams are just one win away from reaching the Super Bowl. The expectations were high for Sean McVay’s squad, and the veteran quarterback is delivering. Stafford’s former teammate, Dan Orlovsky, has long defended the Rams signal-caller. He’s giving Stafford his flowers for leading LA to the NFC Championship Game.
Dan Orlovsky feels vindicated by Matthew Stafford’s playoff performance
Dan Orlovsky and Matthew Stafford were teammates for just one full season with the Detroit Lions. However, the ESPN NFL analyst saw enough to have the utmost confidence in Stafford’s ability as a high-level starting quarterback.
The LA Rams upset the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Divisional Round. The week before, they knocked off the once-hot Arizona Cardinals.
Stafford entered the season with his fair share of doubters. He hadn’t won a playoff game, even though the sample size was small as the quarterback of the Lions. He’s starting to put the doubts to rest, and Orlovsky says it’s time to put respect on the Rams signal-caller’s name.
“They traded for him to go win a Super Bowl,” Orlovsky said on First Take. “He’s ready for that moment. I was with Matthew for a couple of years, and I watched this dude show up every single day. Writers would tell me, ‘Stafford’s not good enough.’ You’re out of your mind.”
The former quarterback suggests those who doubted Matthew Stafford made a colossal mistake.
“You guys were all wrong,” Orlovsky added. “He just showed up, and he was a great teammate. He’d always take the blame, and he’d always give the credit. There is not a cat in the league that I want with the ball in their hands with the game on the line more than Matthew Stafford.”
Dan Orlovsky believes the team Stafford previously played for held him back. “He’s finally got a good team around him,” the analyst said. “And now he’s in the NFC Championship Game. And he shut a lot of people up.”
The former Lions QB is cashing in on the Rams’ risky gamble
Matthew Stafford spent the first 12 seasons of his NFL career with the Detroit Lions. The franchise posted only four winning seasons during that span, making the NFL playoffs three times.
The Georgia product’s arm talent placed him in conversations with some of the league’s top passers for a while. However, he didn’t always get his proper credit, thanks to playing for an organization in constant rebuild mode.
The LA Rams gave Stafford the perfect opportunity to change the narrative. General manager Les Snead acquired the 33-year-old from the Lions in exchange for Jared Goff, two first-round picks, and a third-round pick.
LA surrendered a massive haul to land Stafford, signaling the team was all-in for the 2021 season. The move afforded the veteran a legitimate chance to compete for a Super Bowl.
Stafford has experienced some ups and downs in 2021, but he’s answered the call more times than not. The Tampa, Florida native threw for 4,886 yards, 41 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions (league-high) in the regular season. Decision-making has been an issue at times, but one that hasn’t shown up in the postseason.
Stafford outlasted Kyler Murray and Tom Brady, who get more praise than the Rams quarterback. Now, he has the Rams in the NFC Championship Game.
How LA can defeat the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game
Getting past the San Francisco 49ers to reach Super Bowl LVI won’t be an easy task. Kyle Shanahan and company have defeated Sean McVay’s squad twice already. They’ll be looking to complete the hat trick in the NFC Championship Game.
Dan Orlovsky gave Matthew Stafford high praise after the Divisional Round victory. However, he’ll need another masterful performance to get to the big game.
The Rams enter the matchup with more all-around talent. The Niners are motivated and hungry for respect, though.
For LA to take down San Francisco, it must be the more physical team. The 49ers play smash-mouth football, led by their dominant running game. Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell are bruising ball carriers who can wear down defenses. Just ask the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers.
In the Rams’ two losses to the 49ers, San Francisco gashed LA for 135 or more rushing yards. “Ground and pound” is Kyle Shanahan’s bread and butter. The Rams must have an answer.
The winner of this game will almost certainly win it in the trenches. Both squads have strong defensive fronts that can get after the quarterback. Matthew Stafford has the edge over Jimmy Garoppolo, but Nick Bosa and the crew are sure to make life difficult.
Both teams have played excellent postseason football up to this point, so it’s anyone’s guess who wins. Still, it’s another opportunity for Stafford to silence the haters.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.