During Jared Goff’s time in Los Angeles, Sean McVay always kept the dropback passing game behind “break in case of emergency” glass. When the Rams were behind and in need of points, or defenses were able to slow down their run game and play-action passes, they’d turn the offense over to Goff. That hardly ever turned out the way they wanted, which is why the Rams were willing to part ways with two first-round picks to swap Goff out for Matthew Stafford this past offseason. If McVay was going to get his team over the Super Bowl hump, he needed a quarterback who could function in obvious passing situations—a quarterback who could unlock the premium version of his offense.

Through the first eight weeks of the season, the premium version of McVay’s offense lived up to the preseason hype. The Rams were 7-1, leading the league in offensive DVOA, and Stafford was a favorite to win MVP. The offense was back to its 2018 form, but the play-calling that had carried Goff to Super Bowl LIII hardly resembled what we were seeing from the Stafford-led attack. The Rams’ shotgun rates spiked; their play-action usage and pre-snap motion plummeted.

 

The Rams 2021 Offense Looks Different

The dropback passing game was no longer plan B. It was the centerpiece of the offense. More importantly, when the Rams were getting caught in obvious passing situations, Stafford wasn’t just playing well … his performance was almost lapping the rest of the league.

There’s been a drastic downturn since the calendar turned over to November. The Rams have lost three consecutive games, and, over that span, they rank 30th in EPA per play, per RBSDM.com. Stafford’s blunders have been the driving factor behind this slump; since Week 9, he’s lost 47.7 expected points on sacks and interceptions, which leads the league by a healthy margin, per TruMedia. But the struggles of the Rams offense are about more than just a few mistakes. There’s rot beneath the surface here that should alarm McVay, Stafford, and every fan in Los Angeles. The team’s success rate, which wouldn’t be impacted by a high number of turnovers, is down by nearly 10 percentage points since Week 9. And, per TruMedia, Stafford’s EPA on completed passes has dropped from 1.17 per play, which led the league over the first eight weeks, down to 0.70 per play since Week 9, which ranks 19th over that span, according to TruMedia. In other words, the “good” plays haven’t been nearly as productive and the bad plays have been downright catastrophic.