After all, he completed 66.7% of his passes (28-for-42) for a season-high 308 yards with a touchdown and an interception. It’s certainly not the greatest line, but he’s obviously had worse this season.
But if you actually watched the Rams’ 22-10 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, you know Stafford didn’t have an easy time against the Dallas defense. He was pressured 20 times, the second-highest total of his career, and was sacked five times.
The former Pro Bowler has been sacked 21 times thus far in 2022, tied for the most of any Rams QB through the first five games since the 1970 merger. A dozen of those have taken place the last two weeks as Stafford was roughed up by the San Francisco 49ers a week ago, taking seven sacks in a 24-9 loss. He also took seven in the Rams’ opening-week loss to the Buffalo Bills.
In LA’s victories over the Falcons and Cardinals, Stafford was only sacked once each game, making the winning formula pretty simple. Keep him upright, and the team can compete.
But that’s been a big case of easier said than done as the Rams’ offensive line has been sacked with a slew of injuries (yeah, you see what we did there), making life extremely difficult for the 14-year veteran.
Sean McVay says Matthew Stafford ‘needs help,’ and he’s right
Following the loss, head coach Sean McVay spoke with the media and clearly isn’t blaming his quarterback for the Rams’ struggling offense, which has only scored one touchdown in its last nine quarters.
“I love Matthew Stafford,” McVay said. “He is competing and doing everything in his power for this team. He needs some help. We’ve got to be able to help him.”
McVay certainly isn’t wrong in his assessment.
Center Jeremiah Kalone was the ninth different offensive lineman in LA’s starting lineup this season. Kalone, who played in the AAF in 2019 and has spent the last few years on the Rams’ practice squad, was replacing an injured Shelton Coleman, who was filling in for an injured Brian Allen.
Right tackle Rob Havenstein and left tackle Joe Noteboom are the only two offensive linemen to start all five games for the defending champs in 2022.
Thankfully for the Rams and their fans, the NFC West doesn’t have an elite team this year. Even at 2-3, LA is just one game back of the 3-2 Niners with a dozen games left on the schedule. But this problem needs to be addressed. The issue, however, is that McVay admits that he’s not sure quite how to do so, saying, “I don’t know if I have that answer right now” in Sunday’s post-game presser.
If the Rams are truly going to compete this year as they attempt to become the first repeat Super Bowl winner in nearly two decades, he better figure things out.
If the stat above about Stafford getting sacked just once in each of the LA’s two wins wasn’t enough proof of the problem, try this one. When not pressured by the Dallas defense on Sunday, Stafford completed 22 of 27 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown. But when pressured, he completed just six of 15 throws for 59 yards and his league-leading seventh interception (tied with Matt Ryan).
And it’s not as if the ground game is helping out, as the Rams collectively rushed for only 38 yards on 15 carries. But again, that speaks to the offensive line issues. Just five games in, McVay & Co. aren’t in serious trouble yet, and Aaron Donald and the defense will keep them in some games.
But the NFL season moves quickly. And if Stafford doesn’t get the help we all know he needs, the Rams could easily watch their chance of repeating go down the drain in a hurry.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference