The two 49ers-Rams games this year just got more interesting. The general rule of thumb for players is to avoid giving opponents bulletin-board material, but San Francisco safety Jimmie Ward has thrown considerable shade in the direction of Matthew Stafford.
“I like Stafford, but they still will have the same players that he’ll be throwing the ball to,” Ward told Grant Cohn of SI.com.. “He’s the same quarterback who was on the Detroit Lions and they still didn’t go to the playoffs, and they had Megatron. What was the problem over there in Detroit? Are you going to blame the city? What was the problem? Was it the money? If they city didn’t have enough money to bring players over there, why even have an NFL team? That’s a big question mark.
“They went and traded Jared Goff, who went to the playoffs several times and went to the Super Bowl. Yeah, he lost. He went to the Super Bowl, though. I’ve yet to see that with Matt Stafford. And I’m saying, he’s still great. I believe he’s a top 10 quarterback, maybe top 5. I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m just going off of what I see. And I see Jared Goff got those boys to the Super Bowl.”
They’re fun quotes, and it would be nice if we saw more of them, with players being more honest about opponents. They’ll add a little something extra to these two divisional games (especially with Stafford trying to connect on passes against Ward). The Rams were the better of these teams last year, but San Francisco swept them. The 49ers also won both meetings in 2019 – they seem to match up well against Los Angeles.
In regards to Stafford and Goff, it’s downfield passing ability that’s the key. Stafford has more ability to connect on the longer pass plays, as well as connecting on balls into tighter windows. That’s the theory.
There were confidence issues in Los Angeles last year. Goff seemed to lose confidence, and the coaching staff seemed to give up on him, deciding they needed to get better at the position.
The Rams last year were one of only three teams whose wide receivers averaged fewer than 11 yards per catch. The Lions ranked 8th in that category, averaging almost 3 more yards per completion.
The main wide receivers in Los Angeles aren’t deep-threat burners. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp tend to be more reliable than explosive. But the Rams signed DeSean Jackson and used a second-round pick on Tutu Atwell, who’s a similar kind of player. We’ll definitely see more long balls in that offense this year.
|WIDE RECEIVERS: YARDS PER CATCH|