The Los Angeles Rams had themselves a busy offseason.
After failing to remake the Super Bowl in back-to-back seasons (2019 and 2020), the Rams decided to go all-in on a brand new direction. They still believe head coach Sean McVay is the right man to lead them back to the Super Bowl but decided a change was necessary at the quarterback position.
Two first-round picks and a plethora of dead cap later, and Matthew Stafford is the newest starting QB for the Rams. It was a bold, impulsive move to make for the LA front office. However, it’s been received well by a good chunk of the national media.
NFL analyst Peter King predicts the Los Angeles Rams to win the Super Bowl this year
During his offseason story titled “FMIA: Sorry, Bucs and Chiefs. Here’s Why Super Bowl Will Be Rams-Bills, And More Predictions For NFL 2021,” where he picks and predicts the upcoming season, NFL analyst Peter King lays out why he believes the Rams (not the Chiefs or Bucs) are the team to beat in 2021.
I think we’re going to see a Rams offense like that one in 2018. A couple of differences between then and now. That year, the Rams had the league’s 19th-rated defense. This year, the Rams are coming off a season when they had the top-rated defense in the league. Gone is coordinator Brandon Staley, who got the Chargers’ head job, but the three best defensive players are back: all-world Aaron Donald and one of the game’s best cornerback tandems, Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams. And the quarterback is new and improved over last year’s model.
Simply put, Matthew Stafford gives McVay, one of the smartest offensive brains in the game, the first chance in his five seasons as coach to have confidence in calling everything on his play sheet. Everything. Stafford has the arm to make every throw, and the brain to know when to make one throw versus another.Peter King, Pro Football Talk
Extremely high praise for a team that’s only won one playoff game the past two seasons and for a quarterback who’s never actually won a game in the postseason.
Are the Los Angeles Rams really better than the Bucs, Chiefs, and Bills?
It’s reasonable to assume the Rams are due for a good season following the addition of Stafford. He’s a far superior quarterback than Jared Goff, and early reports coming out of training camp paint the picture of McVay being thrilled with his new starter.
However, that doesn’t mean LA is void of competition. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers are coming off an awe-inspiring 2020 season, and the AFC is loaded with elite quarterbacks.
The Rams will have to do a lot more than “just be better than last year” if they want to be viewed as realistic Super Bowl contenders.
Pump the breaks on the McVay-Stafford hype
New HC-QB pairings are always exciting, but the McVay-Stafford hype appears to be reaching a sensationalist point. The Rams should be a good football team in 2021, but immediately vaulting them over the Bucs, Chiefs, Bills, and even the Packers feels rich.
As King points out in his above-mentioned article, the Rams have actually experienced a stark regression in their offense under the guidance of McVay post-2018. LA went 11-1, averaging 34.9 points per game through the first 12 games of 2018. They’re 24-17, averaging 23.9 points per game since.
Should Stafford help the Rams’ offense score more points? Absolutely. Is he good enough to account for 10-plus points all by himself? No, probably not.
Waiting and seeing if the Rams can actually compete with the top dogs around the NFL is the appropriate stance to take here. They have to prove they’re legit before they’re allowed to be considered Super Bowl favorites again.