Matthew Stafford heads back to Midwest to face Colts
After he already showed that life on the West Coast suits him just fine, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford will return to the Midwest on Sunday in an attempt to offer first-hand evidence.
The former Detroit Lions quarterback, who was traded to the Rams in the offseason, will head to Indianapolis on Sunday to face the Colts as the first NFC Player of the Week this season. The honor came after a 321-yard, three-touchdown passing performance in a 34-14 victory over the Chicago Bears.
The retooled Rams (1-0) were not exactly a well-oiled machine, getting stagnant on offense enough to watch the Bears pull within a touchdown in the third quarter.
The Los Angeles defense gave up chunks of yards underneath, especially in the third quarter, but avoided the big play, and the offense supplied the finishing kick with two TDs over the final 16-plus minutes.
By then, Stafford already had shown big-strike capabilities not often seen under former quarterback Jared Goff. Stafford threw a 67-yard TD pass to Van Jefferson in the first quarter and a 56-yard TD strike to Cooper Kupp early in the second half thanks to a blown Bears coverage.
Doing more than enough without showing the entire bag of tricks was just how the Rams would have preferred it.
“This team has embraced me and I really appreciate that,” Stafford said. “I’ve done everything I can to just work as hard as I can, get myself (involved) in this team and they wrapped their arms around me and it felt good to go out there and play with them (Sunday). Such incredible players on this team.”
The Colts also had a new look at quarterback Sunday, getting 251 yards and two touchdowns from Carson Wentz in a 28-16 defeat at home to the Seattle Seahawks. Indianapolis gets another NFC West test this weekend.
The Colts’ defense gave up just 254 passing yards but watched Russell Wilson throw four TD passes. Indianapolis also gave up 140 rushing yards, eighth highest in Week 1, and the fifth highest yards-per-carry average (5.2).
Yet of greater concern might have been the play of the Colts’ offensive line, which struggled at times trying to protect a QB six weeks removed from foot surgery. Wentz was sacked three times and was forced to withstand constant pressure.
“First and foremost, we’re a pocket-protection team,” Colts center Ryan Kelly said. “If he’s scrambling that many times, it’s not the safest in the pocket. That’s on us. We’ll go back and watch it as an entire offense and I’m sure that everybody’s got something they can get better at.”
Help could be on the way in the form of offensive tackle Eric Fisher, who was limited in practice Wednesday and could be ready to make his Colts debut Sunday. Fisher played the last eight seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and came away from last season’s AFC Championship Game with an Achilles injury.
However, All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson (back, foot) missed practice Wednesday. As did All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard (ankle).
In 44 all-time games between the teams, the Colts hold a 23-19-2 advantage, per Pro Football Reference. The Rams have won the last two meetings and six of the last nine. The most recent matchup came in 2017 as Rams head coach Sean McVay made his debut with a 46-9 Week 1 victory at Los Angeles.
–Field Level Media