Sean McVay Talks Stafford and Rams Struggles

Before opting to return for a seventh season as the Rams’ head coach, Sean McVay considered a number of uncertainties, both about himself and his club. But, it appears that the health of quarterback Matthew Stafford was not one of them.

Stafford won’t have any restrictions, according to McVay, when the Rams’ offseason practices get underway on April 17.

The 15-year-old Stafford played through right elbow tendonitis, recovered from a concussion, and a spinal bruise that ended his season and kept him out of the final seven games of the Rams’ awful 5-12 campaign.

“It’s been a long time since he’s been healthy through an offseason, where he’s been able to throw,” McVay said at the NFL owners meetings. “I was just with him the other morning where he was in there early working, being able to do the things that are in alignment with preparing for the season.”

Stafford, 35, great receiver Cooper Kupp, top defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and other key players will serve as the foundation for a squad that is not expected to sign any high-profile free agents this offseason.

Kupp, 29, just had ankle surgery that put a stop to the season. Due to an ankle injury, Donald, 31, missed the final six games of the previous season. The traditionally attention-grabbing Rams are experiencing a severe economic downturn while planning for 2024 and drafting players. They are depending on Stafford to get them into the playoffs.

The Rams traded Stafford, the first-round pick in the 2009 NFL draft, to the Detroit Lions in exchange for quarterback Jared Goff, two first-round picks, and a third-round pick in 2021. By tossing 41 touchdown passes for the Rams during the regular season and guiding them to victory in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium, Stafford proved that the agreement was worthwhile.

But in order to prevent the tendinitis in his right elbow from getting worse last spring, Stafford was restricted during training camp and did not throw passes during offseason practices. Stafford’s insufficient involvement made it difficult for him to establish a connection, among others, with new receiver Allen Robinson.

Until his season was over with a sack against the New Orleans Saints in 2022, Stafford had only completed 10 touchdown passes.

“Last year, there was such a unique combination … of things that prevented him from being able to play the way that he’s capable of,” McVay said. “I think there’s a lot of guys on our team that will have a renewed sense of urgency and appreciation for just getting out and competing.”

Robinson, who is still in a state of limbo, might be one of those guys. According to overthecap.com, the Rams are looking to trade the guy with a guaranteed salary of $10 million and a $18 million salary cap number.

Before suffering a foot injury that ended his season, Robinson caught only 33 catches for 339 yards and three scores the previous year.

“Allen is a great person, he’s been a great player for a long time,” McVay said when asked how he would handle the situation if Robinson is on the roster when offseason workouts begin. “And so you talk to him and say, ‘This is a possibility that we’re exploring where we might move you. But if we don’t, I want you to know I’m going to pour everything I have into you as a player to try to help you reach your highest potential, make sure that it’s an enjoyable experience where you love coming into work.’

“And so that’s exactly where we’ve left it. And so I don’t think it’s uncomfortable because those are the realities of the situation. And if he is here be excited about it. And if he’s not, wish him the best in his next stop.”

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