The play showed Stafford’s ability to not only turn a potential negative into a positive, but also an increasing comfort with the offense. He spent his first 12 seasons in Detroit, playing in various systems but arguably none as varied as McVay’s. To be able to process so much information this early in his tenure with the Rams potentially bodes well for what might come.
He admitted he has been on a crash course, trying to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. And despite opening the night with more than 45,000 yards and 282 touchdowns passing, he still felt a need to make himself accountable to his new teammates and coaches.
“A lot of anticipation for this game,” Stafford said. “For me, it’s a new experience, a new place, a new stadium, new fans, the whole deal. But this team has embraced me and I really appreciate that. I’ve done everything I can to work as hard as I can and give myself to this team, and they’ve wrapped their arms around me. It felt good to go out there and play with them tonight, with such incredible players. I’m lucky to be a part of it and I want to try and do everything I can to try and lead this team to where we want to go.”
The Rams are definite NFC threats considering they return the key components of a defense that ranked No. 1 in scoring and total D last season. The unit flexed its muscle on its opening series, stalling a Chicago drive with an interception of a tipped Andy Dalton pass. You could almost hear the groans from Chicago following the turnover, as many in the fan base want rookie first-round pick Justin Fields in the lineup. And while Fields did get a handful of snaps, even scoring on a 3-yard run in the third quarter, it’s a tough situation to throw him into.
Consider, the Bears were down one tackle going into the game, lost recently acquired Jason Peters to injury during the game, and had Peters’ backup, Larry Borom, leave with an ankle injury. For all the talent Fields has, and it appears significant, the careers of many young quarterbacks have ended before they began thanks to teams putting them in situations where they can’t be protected.
Dalton finished 27 of 38 passing for 206 yards with no touchdowns. He was intercepted once — which was followed by the Jefferson score that gave Los Angeles a lead it never relinquished — and sacked three times. The only positive was Chicago’s run game, which produced 134 yards, including 108 by David Montgomery. Short of that, there was little for the Bears to find solace in. They had seven possessions in which the final line of scrimmage was in Rams territory, yet managed just two scores.
Coach Matt Nagy acknowledged afterward that the plan was to get Fields some snaps, but only in the right situations. He hinted that he would continue to do so going forward.
“We had a plan and we stuck to our plan,” he said. “We knew where and when we were going to use (each quarterback) and we stuck to that. We’ll see where that goes and how we do it. But, I think, we all understand that, for us, strategically we’ll see where we go with that without giving anything away.”
The Rams have no such concerns. For them, it’s all smiley faces.