The long wait this offseason to see quarterback Matthew Stafford make his Rams debut is now behind us as the new signal-caller of Los Angeles delivered a noteworthy introduction, going 20-of-26 with 321 yards and three touchdowns.
After an abundance of speculation throughout the summer about what the duo of Stafford and coach Sean McVay could eventually turn out to be, the hot start in which they got off to had to be a sigh of relief.
While expectations were sky high, Stafford presumably exceeded them. He registered a 156.1 passer rating – the highest ever by a quarterback making his debut with a new team.
“I think it was just his steady demeanor throughout the course of the game,” McVay said following the Rams' 34-14 win over the Bears. “Just like you had seen in practice and seen from afar, but I think their first drive of the second half I thought was most impressive. But then I’m thinking about what an unbelievable job he did progressing, finding Robert Woods on the last touchdown, so there were multiple things but I think the overall game management and I think the expectation. You could just see there was a look in his eye. He had confidence in his teammates. He expected to play well and he did a great job. It’s hard to say there was one thing. I loved everything he did tonight.”
It didn't take long for Stafford to display his strong arm talent as he launched a 67-yard touchdown pass to Van Jefferson on his second passing attempt of the game. He also connected on two other deep attempts on the night, finding Cooper Kuupp for a 56-yard gain and Tyler Higbee for 37 yards.
Last season, the Rams completed just two passes of over 50 yards throughout all of 2020. Stafford has already eclipsed that in one game this season in a Rams uniform.
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“I think it was a great job by him being able to flip his hips and make an unbelievable throw,” McVay said. “I think that’s kind of one of those things – he’s gifted. He’s got a great ability to be able to change his arm slot and make all types of throws, whether it be short, intermediate or down the field. You’re not limited in anything you can do in the pass game. Hopefully, we’ll continue to build on options and opportunities that we have moving forward.”
McVay points to not being limited to any play he can dial-up in the passing game. After last season with Jared Goff under center, McVay's ability to call specific concepts had backtracked due to the limitations of his passer.
Now, after sending three draft picks and Goff to the Lions to acquire Stafford — McVay's handpicked choice — the dynamic duo appears to be clicking early on.
The Rams will hit the road next weekend and look to put together a similar offensive performance against an Indianapolis Colts team that finds themself 0-1 after the Week 1 slate. Stafford holds a 1-2 all-time record against the Colts. He’s thrown 300-plus yards and two touchdowns in each of his three games against Indianapolis, and he'll look to do the same as the Rams hunt for win No. 2.
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Nick Cothrel is the Publisher of Ram Digest. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel.