The Los Angeles Rams are all-in for the 2021 season. It is Super Bowl or bust for this team. They have all the pieces in place to make a deep run and play in big games late in the season, but Super Bowl Champion Kurt Warner thinks it’s fair to wonder if their quarterback, Matthew Stafford, is up to the task.
Playing in big games is new for LA Rams QB Matthew Stafford
When the LA Rams acquired long-suffering former Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford this offseason, the team became Super Bowl contenders. When they traded for Von Miller and signed Odell Beckham Jr., they became Super Bowl favorites.
After a 7-1 start, though, the Rams have lost two in a row. Now, some are asking questions about whether their new star QB is ready for the bright lights and the pressure that comes with leading a top team to the Big Game.
After the Detroit Lions picked Stafford No. 1 overall in 2009, he spent the next 12 seasons in the Motor City. He put up solid numbers there (45,109 yards, 306 touchdowns) but only produced a 74-90-1 record.
The team only made the playoffs three times (2011, 2014, 2016) with Stafford under center and lost in the first round all three times. All told, the team posted a winning record just four times during Stafford’s tenure.
It’s safe to say that Stafford hasn’t played in many big games in his career, regular or postseason. Now, Hall of Fame signal-caller Kurt Warner, who has plenty of big-game experience himself, says it’s fair to question if this will become a big issue for the Rams in 2021.
Kurt Warner says we’ll find out if Stafford’s problems were because of him or his former team
After the LA Rams primetime blowout by the 49ers, Matthew Stafford was a hot topic of conversation on the sports talk shows the next day. One of the guests that hopped on the line to discuss the situation was former St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals QB Kurt Warner.
Warner joined host Rich Eisen of the Rich Eisen Show the day after calling the Monday night match for the Westwood One radio broadcast.
“What do you see when you look at Stafford,” Eisen asked Warner. “Is he hurt, or does he have a big game problem?”
Warner answered that he doesn’t see anything physically wrong with Stafford but asking if Stafford has a “big game problem” is valid. The Super Bowl-winning QB said to Eisen:
I think there’s always going to be the question with Matthew Stafford — just because he’s never been in the big game, and we can point our finger at a lot of different things with Detroit, of course. But you know the expectations are high on what people want from him and expect from him because of all the talent and now all the talent around him, and we’re gonna see how he plays in the big moment, in the big game. Because you know as well as I do that there’s a lot of really good players in this league that aren’t great in that moment, and Matthew Stafford’s going to get an opportunity to prove to us what he is as a player at some point here. And I think we’re all waiting to see, we’re all hoping, it was a Detroit issue and not a Matthew Stafford issue.Kurt Warner on Matthew Stafford
The take that we don’t yet know whether Stafford is a big-game quarterback because he played so long in Detroit is not a new one. What makes Warner asking the question more interesting, though, is that the Hall of Fame signal-caller is a Super Bowl winner but doesn’t have the best record in big games himself.
Kurt Warner knows all about big games
Kurt Warner was a great NFL QB with an amazing backstory, and he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. He also won a Super Bowl trophy in 1999, and that is incredibly impressive.
His regular-season record as a starter with the Rams, Cardinals, and New York Giants is an impressive 67-49. On his way to 32,334 passing yards and 208 touchdown passes, Warner led the NFL in completion percentage and yards per attempt three times, touchdowns, yards per completion, QB rating, and yards per game twice, and total yards once.
As good as he was in the regular season, he was excellent in the playoffs as well. He put up a career 8-2 record in playoffs with a 66.45% completion rate, 3,952 yards, 31 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. This gives Warner a career 102.8 postseason quarterback rating.
Super Bowls were not as kind to the former Northern Iowa Panther. Warner was 1-2 in Big Games, playing in some of the most memorable Super Bowls of all time.
His win came in the 1999 Super Bowl against the Tennessee Titans. The lasting image from that game is Rams linebacker Mike Jones tackling a stretching Kevin Dyson on the 1-yard line to win the game. Two seasons later, the Rams were favored to beat the upstart AFC team they were facing, but first-year starter Tom Brady outdueled Warner to get the win.
In 2008, now with the Cardinals, Warner kept it close in the first half with Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. That is until linebacker James Harrison returned a Warner pick 100 yards as time expired. The Cards came back and took the lead, 23-20, late. But Roethlisberger found Santonio Holmes tip-toeing in the back corner of the end zone with 35 seconds left to steal the win.
As much as those two Super Bowl losses surely hurt, Warner still has the one win. That feat helps him go down as an all-time great. Now the question is, can Matthew Stafford do the same?
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference