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Behind the Grind extra: Matthew Stafford
As a supplement to the corresponding Behind the Grind episode, a behind-the-scenes visual look at Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford's approach to his second season. 
By Stu Jackson Jul 07, 2022
Photographs By Brevin Townsell and Will Navarro/LA Rams

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Like Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, quarterback Matthew Stafford enjoyed a career season statistically while also successfully navigating the lofty expectations placed upon him externally after he arrived in Los Angeles.

Here's a look behind Stafford's grind as he handled those expectations and now looks to build on that successful first season in the horns.

"It's never easy"

While the lasting images for many fans last season may be the confetti falling and players hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy at SoFi Stadium, Stafford's biggest takeaway from Year 1 was the adversity overcome to get to that point.

"Biggest lesson I learned from last season, I think, is it's never easy," Stafford said in Behind The Grind. "People see the end product, they see us hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, but it was a struggle."

While the Rams enjoyed a successful first half of the season with a 7-1 start through their first eight games, they hit a small bump with three straight losses in November, and later dealt with injuries to key players – like wide receiver Robert Woods and safety Jordan Fuller – as well as a COVID-19 outbreak.

"I definitely can be better in all aspects, and will continue to work to try to be that way," Stafford said following the Rams' Monday Night Football loss to the 49ers in San Francisco.

Indeed, he and the Rams would rebound, riding winning five of their final six regular season games into playoff momentum that carried over into that Super Bowl LVI-winning postseason run. Stafford finished the regular season tying his career-high in passing touchdowns in a single season with 41, then led three consecutive game-winning drives in the playoffs to help the Rams become world champions.

The Los Angeles Rams took on the Ten
nessee Titans during Week 9 of the 2021 season.
The Los Angeles Rams took on the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10 of the 2021 regular season.
The Los Angeles Rams take on the Green Bay Packers during Week 12 of the 2021 regular season.

Getting comfortable

Throughout that process, Stafford said in Behind The Grind that his biggest adjustment was "being a little bit uncomfortable."

For 12 years, he had essentially the same routine, going to the same facility and being around the same teammates for the most part. Year 13 brought a new facility, a new coaching staff and new teammates he had to build relationships with.

It didn't take too long for him to get settled, though, given the rapport he established with head coach Sean McVay, wide receiver Cooper Kupp and the rest of the offensive players and coaching staff.

Now, Stafford wants to have greater ownership of the offense so he can teach it to other players like newcomers Allen Robinson II and also help it evolve.

"At this point in the year last season, I think to myself what I knew about this team and this offense, and it's just so small in comparison to what I know and understand now," Stafford said in Behind The Grind. "So that gives me great comfort in the fact that we can go above and beyond what we did last year."

Matthew Stafford’s first visit to SoFi Stadium.
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The Los Angeles Rams take on the New York Giants in Week 6 of the 2021 season.

Offseason work

During the offseason program, that process began without Stafford throwing the ball, but he still got plenty of valuable work and reps in at a jog-through pace as the Rams emphasized an "above-the-neck" approach to organized team activities this spring.

"I don't know if there was a time," Stafford said on June 8, when a reporter asked if he's ever had a period where he took that many reps without throwing. "I've definitely dealt with injuries throughout my career that have kind of limited me in certain ways, but we do as good a job here as anywhere I've ever been of being able to practice and make that practice feel – stress people above the neck, get the tempo, get the communication, force all that stuff without really tearing people's bodies down.

"So I do think we get a lot out of it. I think that's been the best part of it for us so far, is being able to stress guys who are new to the system or in a new spot in the offense, and we're trying out new stuff as well, we're trying out new tempos, new plays, all that kind of stuff. There's plenty to be gained, it's just less fun for me whenI don't get to do the one thing that I liked doing, which is throwing the ball."


Looking ahead

Now more than a year into his time with the Rams, the comfort level is evident. Whereas last year was about learning his way around the facility and Los Angeles, and getting to know new teammates and a new offensive system, this year is about building on last year's accomplishments.

"I'm excited about it," Stafford says in Behind The Grind. "When you get a taste of that success, it only makes you want it more."

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