Matt Stafford’s Elbow Is ‘Good’ So Los Angeles Rams Attempt To Repeat Is Good To Go

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The Los Angeles Rams begin defense of their Super Bowl championship on Thursday night and what seems like the final piece of preparation for that looming 18-week battle was put in place by coach Sean McVay on Sunday.

McVay said Matt Stafford “feels good” so the coach also feels “really good” about the quarterback’s throwing elbow — the same elbow that had been the topic of concern and attention during training camp because Stafford had been experiencing pain and soreness for weeks.

But Stafford has continually insisted to McVay he would be ready for Thursday night’s regular-season opener against the Buffalo Bills. And that is what McVay has been seeing in practice lately.

“I tell you what, he’s throwing the ball excellent,” McVay told reporters on Sunday. “And he feels good. Everything that I’m seeing is reflective of everything he’s saying to me. And so I feel really good about that.”

If that’s not enough, hear it from Stafford himself:

“I’m ready to go,” he announced. “No limitations.

“…I’m ready to go play. Can always be better. Can always try to feel like I’m 21 again. I’ll keep trying. But no, I feel really good. I feel like I can make every throw.”

Rams’ Plan For Stafford Elbow

McVay said the plan the Rams have to manage Stafford’s elbow soreness is “no different” this year than what they did for the quarterback in 2021.

But what if the Rams need Stafford to throw 50-plus times on Thursday night, the coach was asked?

“No hesitation,” McVay said.

Stafford never threw that many passes in any regular-season game last season and, indeed, threw 40 or more passes only four times. The Rams had a 1-3 record in those games.

So the hope within the Rams organization is that the formula the team used to win games last year can be repeated. That formula is the Rams have a roster lined with stars and those stars must play great — as mostly they all did last season.

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 30: Cooper Kupp #10 of the Los Angeles Rams runs after a catch in the fourth quarter against Fred Warner #54 and K’Waun Williams #24 of the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game at SoFi Stadium on January 30, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Long Time Since Anyone Could Repeat

It must be noted no Super Bowl champion has repeated since the New England Patriots did it in February of 2004 and again in February of 2005.

The reason for that is super teams generally undergo massive change the year after they win it all and the Rams have had some of that.

Von Miller, for example, will be playing for the Bills Thursday night after helping L.A. win it all last year.

Odell Beckham Jr. is unsigned and still rehabilitating a knee injury he suffered in the Super Bowl win.

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth retired and other notable contributors such as Darious Williams and Robert Woods are also gone.

So, honestly, the Rams don’t look quite as strong as they did on Super Bowl Sunday.

Rams Did Some Reloading

But the club added Allen Robinson to combine with Cooper Kupp on the outside and along with Van Jefferson the three form a formidable receiver group for Stafford.

Linebacker Bobby Wagner has never been a feared pass rusher in the company of Miller but he’s got a brilliant football mind, he plugs holes, and is a great leader for the defense so that’s an upgrade to the front seven.

Inglewood, CA – February 13: Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) celebrates with cornerback Jalen Ramsey (5) after pressuring Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) into an incomplete pass on fourth down during the second half in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022 in Inglewood, CA. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The rest is up to Kupp, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, defensive lineman Aaron Donald and Stafford to perform like the league’s best players at their positions. If they do that, there’s no reason Los Angeles cannot repeat as division champions and set themselves up for some sort of home field advantage in the postseason.

That path isn’t exactly impassable.

The NFC West Has Flawed Teams

The Arizona Cardinals won’t have their best receiver DeAndre Hopkins the first six games while he serves a suspension. The 49ers have arguably a more complete roster than the Rams top to bottom except for the quarterback position where Trey Lance is an unknown. And the Seattle Seahawks are rebuilding with journeyman Geno Smith starting at quarterback.

One more thing about the Rams: They currently have razor thin salary cap room and they traded away their first-round pick in 2023 as part of the Stafford deal with Detroit.

But if the team is competing for a return to the Super Bowl before the Nov. 1 trade deadline, do not underestimate general manager Les Snead. He may make a move that improves his team, whatever the cost to future drafts might be.

Or he may do whatever it takes to re-sign Beckham when he’s healthy, which would surprise no one who understands the team has remained in contact with the receiver throughout his rehabilitation process.

That would definitely give the Rams the feel of repeating last year’s Super Bowl formula.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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