NBC Sports' Peter King drops his Football Morning in America column at the start of each week and this Monday in particular, he highlighted the Rams as a team that he believes will do big things in 2021.
King, who is regarded as one of the most connected and detailed-oriented columnists in the industry, has chosen the Rams and Bills as his pick for this year's Super Bowl. His prediction also entailed Los Angeles winning the NFC West, holding the No. 3 seed in the conference, trailing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers.
King spent time at Rams training camp in Irvine last month and he's detailed his sit down with coach Sean McVay, giving an inside look at how he'll mesh with his newly acquired quarterback, Matthew Stafford.
For a team that will look quite different, starting at the quarterback position, King wrote that he thinks you'll see flashes of the 2018 offense that coach Sean McVay displayed in his second year in Los Angeles.
King wrote the following:
"I think we’re going to see a Rams offense like that one in 2018 (The first 12 games of 2018: Rams 11-1, averaging 34.9 points per game). 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."
King's expectations for Stafford and McVay are to tap into the playbook without leaving any concept off the table. With Jared Goff at the helm since 2016, there were specific limitations the offense wasn’t able to dive into. Now, all signs point toward that being out the window with Stafford under center.
King also stated the following:
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"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. One coach who has faced Stafford multiple times told me on my camp tour he thinks the marriage between Stafford and McVay will work well. “Stafford with Sean is going to be fantastic,” this coach said. “Sean’s been waiting for a guy who can execute everything he wants to call.” As I wrote in my training camp report on the Rams a month ago, McVay saw Goff as a student, and he sees Stafford as a peer. In his four months inside the Rams’ building, Stafford has become almost an extension of the coaching staff, and he’s done it organically, without usurping anyone’s authority. He trades ideas with McVay about the pass game. When the Rams traded for running back Sony Michel, it was Stafford, on a day off, who took it on himself to mentor Michel personally with a deep-dive into the offense. Last week, the Rams had their players vote for two offensive, two defensive and one special-teams captains. There were two unanimous picks: Donald, of course. And Stafford. That’s the impact he’s made in his first four months on the team."
And not only did King detail his Super Bowl predictions with the Rams being front and center, but he also picked Stafford to win the MVP award.
"A healthy Stafford, in a 17-game season and with that Rams backfield, could be the first quarterback to throw for 6,000 yards in a year," King added.
Clearly, King has high expectations for what the Rams can achieve under their new superstar quarterback. However, putting all the pieces together to go on a Super Bowl run will require an abundance of players to step up and deliver when it matters most.
While an NFL season is a marathon and not a sprint, the Rams are constructed to do big things in 2021.
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Nick Cothrel is the Publisher of Ram Digest. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel.