The Los Angeles Rams entered the 2021 season with quarterback Matthew Stafford under center with the hopes that he can go "bombs away" with coach Sean McVay's offensive system. After making his Rams debut on Sunday Night Football against the Bears, you can say Stafford did just that, leading L.A. to a 34-14 win over Chicago.
“Getting to a new place, and being able to come out Week 1, night 1, and get a win and play the way we did, feels good,” said Stafford after his first Rams victory. “Lot of work to be done, but definitely a good start.”
On the Rams' first offensive drive, Stafford uncorked a 67-yard touchdown pass to second-year receiver Van Jefferson, capping off a first series that included the Rams' new passer going 2-of-2 for 74 yards and a touchdown through the air to kick off his Rams debut.
“I think it was a great job by him (Stafford) being able to flip his hips and make an unbelievable throw,” McVay said. “He’s gifted. He’s got a great ability to change his arm slot and make all types of throws, short, intermediate or down the field."
Stafford's first three drives of the night resulted in just one touchdown. However, he did drive the offense within reach of field goal range, resulting in three scores. The Rams got off to an early 13-0 lead until the Bears began finding success in running the football.
“You’re not limited with anything you can do with him in the pass game, and hopefully we’ll continue to build on the options and opportunities we have moving forward," McVay said.
In the second quarter, the Bears ignited things offensively by feeding running back David Montgomery with a bevy of carries.
After the Rams' first punt of the game with 4:42 left in the second quarter, the Bears cashed in, going 55 yards and finishing the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run by Montgomery. He finished the night with 16 carries, 108 yards and one touchdown.
The Rams defense which finished last season as the No. 1 unit, lost two crucial members of the secondary in John Johnson III and Troy Hill to free agency. However, their efforts against the pass looked to be their bright spot on defense, while they got gashed on the ground in attempting to stop the run.
After all the hype surrounding the Rams leading into the season, they led the Bears by the score of 13-7 at halftime — a rather underwhelming lead given the firepower on offense for L.A.
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Meanwhile, coming out of halftime, Stafford delivered a deep strike to Cooper Kupp for a 56-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the series. It appeared there was a miscommunication by the Bears, or Stafford looked off the defender quite well, because Kupp didn't have anybody in what looked like 10 yards of him.
The Stafford to Kupp connection was a constant all night, connecting seven times for 108 yards and one touchdown.
Stafford finished the night going 20 of 26 for 321 yards and three touchdowns. His ability to launch the deep ball was a breath of fresh air after seeing the Rams use a lot of underneath throws in previous seasons with Jared Goff at the helm.
“That’s a debut that probably should go down in history,” Ramsey said of Stafford’s performance.
The Bears didn't pose much of a threat in passing the ball, but rather, they did do damage to the Rams' defense by running the ball. Chicago finished the night rushing for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
Just as Stafford made his Rams debut, L.A. native DeSean Jackson also kickstarted his first showing, hauling in an 18-yard reception early in the first quarter. Jackson has a career average of 17.4 yards per catch, the best among active NFL players. McVay's plans of using him as the team's deep threat didn’t present itself in Week 1, but the Rams offense still showed signs of explosiveness with the other weapons to Stafford's disposal.
McVay is now 5-0 in Week 1 since being handed the keys to the Rams franchise.
In Week 2, the 1-0 Rams will head to Indianapolis to take on the 0-1 Colts squad.
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Nick Cothrel is the Publisher of Ram Digest. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel.