In today’s Niner Nate-tion Podcast, Niner Nate and Leo Luna finished their NFC West preview with a deep dive into the Los Angeles Rams. Nate and Leo spoke with Kenny Arthur of Turf Show Times about expectations for Matthew Stafford, losses to the Rams’ coaching staff, and predictions for the division as a whole.
What has changed since last year?
This one is too easy. The acquisition of Matthew Stafford changes everything offensively for the Rams. As far as the biggest area of improvement, Kenny put it pretty bluntly in the show.
“Matthew Stafford is a murderer. I mean, he’s very nice and kind, but he’s a murderer. When you get into that fourth quarter, you need a quarterback that’s going to go out there and get some kills...and that wasn’t Jared Goff. He had some nice skills, and the Rams were very good in the first quarter with him, but if it was kill-or-be-killed, Jared Goff went in the ground.”
Kenny’s comments ring true. Goff has just one fourth-quarter comeback in the last two years. Matt Stafford had three last year alone, on a team that only won five games. There is no question that Stafford puts more fear into the heart of a defense than Jared Goff ever will.
Where are they vulnerable?
Vulnerable probably isn’t a word I would use to describe a team as good as the Rams, but there are some areas that don’t look as strong as last season. First and foremost, the defense may take a step backward after some key departures. Salary cap realities forced the team into losing talented players like Michael Brockers, John Johnson, and Troy Hill, not to mention the loss of defensive coordinator Brandon Staley. Raheem Morris takes over the reins in that department, and as Arthur pointed out, we can’t be one hundred percent sure how good he’ll be in that role.
“Last year was the first time Raheem Morris had ever been a defensive coordinator in the NFL, and he’s only spent one year as a defensive coordinator even at the college level. There’s so little to know about what he will decide to do from a scheme standpoint...You probably go from first (in defense) to fifth or sixth or something like that, but that’s still pretty good. You don’t want to see a big fall there, but I do expect somewhat of a fall.”
Biggest storyline going into the year
Not to beat a dead horse here, but clearly, it’s the quarterback change. The Rams took on the biggest dead cap hit in NFL history and gave up three draft picks to ship Jared Goff out of town. Sean McVay is clearly happy with his new QB, and the early reviews on Stafford are predictably good.
Clearly, the Stafford trade was an all-in move. LA hasn’t had a first-round pick in five years, and they aren’t scheduled to have another one until 2024. That means the only measurement of success for McVay and company is Super Bowl titles, and the Rams are betting the house that Matthew Stafford is the man who can get them to the promised land.