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How many QBs could have won Super Bowl for 2021 Rams?

Matthew Stafford was an obvious upgrade over Jared Goff, but how many QBs could have won Super Bowl with same roster?

U.S.-LOS ANGELES-SUPER BOWL Photo by Xinhua via Getty Images

The offensive collapse for the 2022 Los Angeles Rams is surprising and unlike anything we’ve seen from a Sean McVay-led team.

The widespread injuries along the offensive line have been catastrophic, especially early in the season. The lone weak spot at this point is LG Bobby Evans, who is in danger of getting benched after giving up multiple sacks to Vita Vea in Week 9. David Edwards and Coleman Shelton are potentially nearing a return from injured reserve.

Despite the line stabilizing in recent weeks, the offense still seems like it’s running with cement blocks tied to its feet.

Cooper Kupp has been the lone bright spot on offense. Allen Robinson has been a disappointment after signing a sizeable three-year deal during this spring’s free agency period. Van Jefferson returned from a knee injury in Week 8, but he was targeted five times against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and couldn’t come up with a catch - he also had an ugly drop on a deep pass over the middle of the field.

Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The struggles of Robinson and absence of Jefferson have thrust second-year receiver Ben Skowronek into a bigger role than he’s probably cut out for. Last year’s second round draft pick, Tutu Atwell, has been an explosive playmaker when he’s had the ball in his hands - only twice so far this season - but the Rams are unable and unwilling to work him into the fold. Los Angeles is continuing to burn a roster spot by stashing rookie UDFA Lance McCutcheon and not giving him opportunities to get on the field.

Even considering the struggles on the offensive line and the lack of production in the receiver room (save for Kupp), the Rams’ running backs have played uninspired football through eight games. Darrell Henderson has been the best of the pack, but he’s failed to put up more than 56 rushing yards in a single game. Akers missed weeks with a “personal” issue, which shows he’s more of a “me not we” guy. Keep in mind that the Rams made the conscious decision to let Sony Michel walk in free agency and come into the season with Henderson and Akers as the lead backs.

And that brings us to the single-most important individual on any offense - the quarterback.

Matthew Stafford deserves credit for his part in helping get the Rams over the hump and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after their victory in Super Bowl LVI. But now it’s 2022, and LA entered this season with expectations of competing for another Super Bowl title. It’s our job as stakeholders of the team to hold them accountable for those expectations.

With that said, Stafford has been as much part of the overall problem as any position group on this struggling offense.

Whether you look at traditional statistics or advanced analytics, this has been Stafford’s worst season since his rookie year. Yes, it’s natural to point to the constant turnover of bodies on the offensive line and the struggles of the receiving corps, but Stafford has gotten more out of lesser supporting casts during his days with the Detroit Lions.

In the day and age where NFL defenses are leveraging soft coverage shells to take away explosive passing plays, it’s forced the Rams’ signal caller to lean on one of the weakest parts of his skillset - the quick passing game. Stafford struggles when defenses force him to be patient, and he isn’t consistently accurate enough on a down-to-down basis in order to stay ahead of the chains.

While Tom Brady attempted 58 passes against the Rams and put his team on his shoulders, LA seemed intent on managing Stafford - and only asked him to throw the ball 27 times. He completed 13 of those attempts for 165 yards, 8 going to Kupp alone for 127 yards.

When the Rams had to get a first down to put the game away, they elected to run the ball three-straight times instead of putting their fate in the hands of their franchise QB.

Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

How many QBs could have won a Super Bowl with the 2021 Rams roster?

Winning Super Bowl LVI in 2021 does not exempt either Stafford or the Rams from criticism in 2022. It’s also important to recognize that Los Angeles didn’t need star production from the quarterback position in order to earn the title of World Champions - they just needed to upgrade from middle-of-the-pack in Jared Goff, to a borderline top-10 passer.

How many quarterbacks could have won a Super Bowl with the 2021 Rams roster? Let’s start with the obvious.

Truly elite (4)

  • Tom Brady
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Patrick Mahomes
  • Josh Allen

Certainly good enough (3)

  • Joe Burrow
  • Dak Prescott
  • Lamar Jackson

Probably good enough (4)

  • Justin Herbert
  • Kirk Cousins
  • Ryan Tannehill
  • Kyler Murray

Maybe could have got the job done (4)

  • Tua Tagovailoa
  • Jalen Hurts
  • Russell Wilson
  • Geno Smith

My point is that there were as many as 7 to 15 quarterbacks that could have won a championship off the back of a defense led by Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Jalen Ramsey - and with a receiving corps that featured Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham, Jr.

Stafford became a Super Bowl champion because he was available during the 2021 offseason - something that seemed to be true but wasn’t the case for the Tom Brady’s and Aaron Rodgers’ of the world.

This was a gassed up sports car that was revved up and ready to go - they just needed a driver. But now that the supporting cast has deteriorated, so has the play of the quarterback.

One of the more frequently used Sean McVay-isms is the line “be a thermostat, not a thermometer”, meaning one is an assertive tone-setter and the other is reactive and dependent on the surrounding environment. Which has Stafford been in 2022?

Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

What does this mean for LA in 2022 and beyond?

If Stafford truly is the type of quarterback that is dependent upon a strong supporting cast in order to be successful, why did the Rams double-down and give him a contract extension worth $40M per year this offseason? With LA’s star-studded roster aging and fraying at the corners, should they have only kept the contention roster open for only 1-2 more years - meaning they could have placed the franchise tag on Stafford ahead of the 2023 season.

Giving up two first round draft picks and more for a QB and then paying him $40M annually for the next four to five years suggests that you’re investing in a franchise cornerstone. Is that what the Rams have at this point in Matthew Stafford?

Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images