Everyone knows that feeling, whether it occurred as a teenager or as an adult; remember having a crush on someone, yet they don’t feel the same way about you; it’s heartbreaking whether we are strong enough emotionally to admit it or not.
That’s what it’s like watching Matthew Stafford ball out with the Los Angeles Rams. Although Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes got a massive haul in return for the 2021 MVP candidate, it’s starting to wear on many Lions fans.
In the trade, Detroit added a bridge Jared Goff, plus a third-round selection in the 2021 NFL draft, which turned out to be starting nose tackle, Alim McNeill. Detroit also secured a pair of future first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 from Los Angeles.
Suddenly the national media is going ballistic over Matthew Stafford, and it’s leaving Detroit Lions fans feeling nauseous.
Suddenly, after moving from Detroit, Stafford is garnering national attention regularly from mainstream media outlets. Earlier in the season, Cris Collinsworth admitted that he didn’t really know much about Stafford, trolling Detroit fans as he went on to say, NBC’s Sunday Night Football doesn’t exactly broadcast many Detroit Lions games followed by a gutless chuckle.
Not all, but most Detroit Lions fans will tell you that Stafford has performed well throughout his career, but management hasn’t done him any favors over the years.
That’s not an excuse; it’s just a fact.
The Detroit Lions have failed to surround Stafford with everything it takes to be a Super Bowl contender. When the Detorit offense was humming, the defense could not seem to stop a plastic bag blowing in the breeze. When the defense was elite (that one season), the offense, including Stafford, plus without any respectable rushing attack or consistent offensive line play, let the team down.
Sure, he had one of the greatest wide receivers ever to play the game but struggled to find a supporting cast. Golden Tate crossed paths with Johnson, and Detroit did have three playoff appearances but not only were the Lions playing against their opponent, whether it was Dallas or New Orleans, etc. The organization also seemed to be playing against NFL officials.
Again, that is not an excuse; it’s a fact.
As the franchise’s quarterback, Stafford needs to shoulder the brunt of the blame for Detroit’s lack of success during his tenure. If 50% of the responsibility is on the organization, including the coaching staff, Stafford deserves the other 50%. That’s how it goes in the NFL. The Detroit Lions have produced a 0-3 postseason record in 12 seasons with Stafford under center. Let’s face it, Stafford failed as a Lion, and now watching his excel elsewhere is heartbreaking.
Former Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is excelling in Sean McVay’s offense.
Stafford is performing exactly how many fans predicted being paired with head coach Sean McVay’s high octane offense.
McVay is considered an offensive genius; we’ve heard the term genius in Detroit recently, but on the other side of the ball, needless to say, it didn’t work out so well. McVay does have the stats to back up the title, and he is indeed a tremendous play-caller.
The Rams went to the Super Bowl with Jared Goff under center, and watching Goff in a Lions uniform seems like a miracle.
McVay loves to use a zone blocking rushing scheme, similar to Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco, and it makes sense they coached together in Washington under Mike Shanahan. The latter perfected the system during his coaching career.
Off their rushing attack, the Rams like to work the play-action downfield passing game. With Goff at quarterback, McVay was limited in his creativity. Goff can physically make the throws but remains fixated on the underneath receivers and check-downs rather than gripping it and ripping it deep down the field.
That’s where Stafford enters the chat.
Stafford gives McVay an elite arm talent to work with. Stafford will look downfield, and although the Rams don’t have a Calvin Johnson, they certainly have a cast of top pass-catchers collectively led by Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. The Rams also have a pair of reliable depth playmakers at the position led by Van Jefferson and veteran Desean Jackson. That’s four reliable options, four, not one or two.
What has this translated to on the football field?
So far in 2021, through six games, the Rams are 5-1 with their lone loss to the surging undefeated Arizona Cardinals. Stafford is completing a career-high 69.5% of his pass attempts and a career-high 9.2 yards per attempt, which plays right into McVay’s scheme I previously mentioned. Stafford has tossed for 1,838 yards and 16 touchdowns to four interceptions to date this season.
It’s painful to watch for Lions fans, especially the ones who are fans of Stafford. We’ve seen the ability, and things never worked out in Detroit for all the reasons previously mentioned. It’s painful to see the franchise’s all-time passer excel somewhere else and seem happier than ever doing it.
Circling back, it’s like watching your crush or ex happier than ever with someone else.