The Los Angeles Rams shook things up after the massive offseason move to acquire former Pro Bowl quarterback Matthew Stafford. It’s led to plenty of praise and optimism toward Stafford’s future in Los Angeles. However, San Francisco 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward recently aired strong comments that didn’t speak highly of the Rams’ new quarterback.
The Rams acquire Matthew Stafford
The Rams began the offseason with a big-splash move by acquiring Stafford in a blockbuster trade.
Los Angeles conducted much of the heavy lifting by parting ways with former Pro Bowler Jared Goff and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023, along with a 2021 third-round selection. The team also took on an NFL record $22.2 million dead cap hit in 2021 due to trading Goff while absorbing the final two years of Stafford’s deal worth $43 million.
Before the 33-year-old embarks into the next chapter of his career in Los Angeles, a rival player dished out an undercutting comment toward him.
Matthew Stafford blasted by 49ers’ Jimmie Ward: ‘He’s the same quarterback who was on the Detroit Lions’
Since the trade, plenty of praise and high expectations have been directed toward Stafford.
However, it hasn’t been all positive remarks as 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward didn’t exactly voice enthusiasm regarding the former Pro Bowler joining Los Angeles.
“I like Stafford, but they still will have the same players that he’ll be throwing the ball to,” Ward said via Sports Illustrated. “He’s the same quarterback who was on the Detroit Lions and they still didn’t go to the playoffs, and they had Megatron (Calvin Johnson). What was the problem over there in Detroit? Are you going to blame the city? What was the problem? Was it the money? If they city didn’t have enough money to bring players over there, why even have an NFL team? That’s a big question mark.
“They went and traded Jared Goff, who went to the playoffs several times and went to the Super Bowl. Yeah, he lost. He went to the Super Bowl, though. I’ve yet to see that with Matt Stafford. And I’m saying, he’s still great. I believe he’s a top 10 quarterback, maybe top 5. I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m just going off of what I see. And I see Jared Goff got those boys to the Super Bowl.”
The Detriot Lions hold a strong reputation as one of the NFL’s most poorly run organizations. Stafford’s reputation is benefitting a bit from the outside perspective of his previous team that has failed to sustain any success over the last two decades. At the same time, it’s fair to question Stafford’s ability to a degree, given the Lions’ offense ran through him.
During his 12-year stint in Detroit, the team reached the playoffs three times, resulting in wild-card round exits. Meanwhile, the Lions finished with a .500 or better record on only four occasions. Ward likely isn’t the only opposing player to hold his doubts concerning Stafford.
Ultimately, it’s now on him to make the most of the opportunity ahead of him.
A chance to prove it on the field
Regardless of Ward’s comments, Stafford is well aware of the situation he’s entering.
It’s a chance for him to become the centerpiece of a team geared toward more than a playoff berth. Stafford holds a learning curve with his first offseason in head coach Sean McVay’s offense, but there’s also has plenty of talent around him.
The 33-year-old possesses plenty of offensive firepower in the passing game with wide receivers Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, DeSean Jackson, and Van Jefferson. Second-year running back Cam Akers also holds the opportunity to truly engrain himself as the workhorse option in the running game.
Meanwhile, the Rams possessed one of the league’s top defenses last season that finished first in total yards allowed. All of these factors spell out a tremendous opportunity to put forth a special 2021 campaign.