The Los Angeles Rams have set a new standard ever since coach Sean McVay was given the keys to the franchise.
In each season under McVay, the team has posted a winning record. They've made the playoffs in three of four seasons, including a trip to Super Bowl LIII. The Rams have yet to put the pieces together entirely and achieve the ultimate goal of winning a championship under McVay, but as it sits here now, the wheels appear to be in motion.
Rams general manager Les Snead has shown throughout his history of making trades, he doesn't hold draft picks to the same value as many other league executives. He and the Rams would much rather part ways with draft capital to obtain proven NFL players.
This offseason, he did just that — trading for quarterback Matthew Stafford in a mega-deal that included the departure of Jared Goff, two first-round picks and a third-round pick.
The Rams won 10 games last season and recorded the NFL's No. 1 rated defense. Now with Stafford in charge of the offense, just how far can the Rams go in 2021 and beyond?
Well, last season the offense was severely held back by Goff. He threw the lowest amount of touchdowns since being named a full-time starter in 2017, finding the end zone 20 times last season. He also threw 13 interceptions and fumbled seven times, marking just as many turnovers as touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Stafford has largely been viewed as a passer that can make every throw in the playbook. He's regularly thrown for over 4,000 yards throughout his career — something Goff did not achieve last season. In fact, Stafford reached the 5,000-yard mark once, putting him in the elite category of passers that only seven other quarterbacks have achieved that benchmark.
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The duo of McVay and Stafford will be able to manipulate defenses to an extent that the Rams haven’t been able to do in recent years. McVay's offense is friendly to pass-catchers, scheming them open on a regular basis. After 12 NFL seasons, Stafford is poised to use McVay's offense to his advantage, doing things statistically that he was unable to attain as a result of the Lions' limited roster.
While the Rams' previous seasons under McVay have had the ability to reach the playoffs and presumably win the Super Bowl, this season has largely been brought to the forefront as expectations in Los Angeles have been driven sky high.
Additionally, the oddsmakers have set the Rams with the fourth-highest odds to win the Super Bowl this season. The buzz is in the air out west, but its reach has even gone to a national level following the acquisition of Stafford.
The Rams are poised to win the Super Bowl in 2021. That doesn't mean they're the only team in the driver's seat to do so. The NFC is filled with talented rosters, featuring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers. But in terms of the magnitude that the Stafford trade can have on the franchise, their ceiling is hosting a Lombardi Trophy and that's a big deal in Los Angeles where winning is the expectation after the Dodgers and Lakers have both won championships in recent years.
The Rams will kickstart their 2021 season on Sunday Night Football, where Stafford will make his highly anticipated debut. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:20 p.m. PT inside SoFi Stadium.
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Nick Cothrel is the Publisher of Ram Digest. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel.