The 2-0 Los Angeles Rams return home to play in the second of back-to-back spotlight games. However, their Week 3 match-up dramatically amps up the lumens in SoFi Stadium as Father Time shunner Tom Brady and his 2-0 Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers strut into town. They bring their shiny new Lombardi trophy and championship ring aura with them for added ambiance. They also bring something they didn’t have in last season’s contest that saw the Rams in control from start to finish — season-long experience playing together.
For Los Angeles to duplicate that outcome they need role players to step up their games, including receiver Van Jefferson. This is rather obvious as outside of his explosive season-opener touchdown he has barely been heard from since until a critical drop in Week 2. What’s less obvious is the newest Los Angeles quarterback sensation’s slightly diminishing will to spread the ball around as evenly as possible.
Matthew Stafford Must Play to Tom Brady’s Level for a Week 3 Win
Sounds crazy to say aloud considering his electrifying 2021 start; Matthew Stafford needs to step up his game. But think before you bust a gut laughing. This is Tom Brady. Have you seen him play this season? Quite honestly, this is Brady at his Hall of Fame best no matter the age. Certainly multi-levels better than he was this time last year when the two teams faced off. The man is threading needles on the regular. Therefore, speaking frankly, Jalen Ramsey is the only piece of the Rams secondary that isn’t a huge concern.
And still, more than Brady’s pinpoint accuracy is his distribution and split second decision-making. He’s not only defying time physically but looking as sharp mentally as ever. Unfortunately for the Rams, this means extra pressure’s on everyone not named Ramsey or Aaron Donald to elevate their play on the defensive side.
Is Stafford Becoming Co(oper Kupp) Dependent?
“[Cooper] Kupp averaged 4.4 yards of separation in Week 2, alongside his 9 catches for 163 yards and 2 TDs. Kupp had at least 3 yards of separation…” Jourdan Rodrigue
Yes, Cooper Kupp is off to a blazing start. And yes, he’s deserving of every target he’s gotten thus far. If you’re the best on the team at getting open, you should get the most attention without question. The problem here is predictability. The concern here is that Tom Brady plays on the Bucs (and yes, I know he doesn’t play defense). McVay must acknowledge that Bill Belichick doesn’t need to be physically present for Bill Belichick’s knowledge to be present. And this is on top of what Brady already knows — or do you think he didn’t learn and take a thing or two to Florida with him?
A member of the group asked if Matt Stafford was hitting up Cooper Kupp a little too much…
so I looked into it (included Week 3 opponent for distribution/target comparisons).
What d'ya think? pic.twitter.com/2XX95Hhgn3
— Mob Times (@GridDawgs247) September 22, 2021
What’s more, it’s likely that Van Jefferson’s confidence is waning a bit lately while his skillset needs sharpening. His noticeable progression will surely be needed late in the season and into the post-season.
You don’t want to be predictable facing the most acclaimed defense of the past year despite how they’ve played so far. The Bucs are extremely talented, especially upfront, and Stafford may be faced with the game they get up for. It would be especially wise to throw more wrinkles into the game plan that highlight other skill players as first options.
Kupp looked relentless in Week 2 and determined to be the Rams number one guy. McVay hasn’t built this team to need a number one. In other words, in time it won’t matter if they mix and shift formations if the end result is the same. This might be especially true this week with the team’s current running back issues.
And speaking of running backs, is this the week we, who want the Funk, get the Funk down in the red zone? Cross your fingers, SoFi.
Final Thoughts on the Rams-Bucs Match-up in Week 3
While this contest is certainly more than Matthew Stafford versus the ongoing legend of Tom Brady, it is crucial that the game come pretty close in the battle of wits. Of course, this means Sean McVay better have his wits about him when defenses start focusing closer on Kupp’s knack for getting separation. The Bucs are expected to make efforts to interrupt passing lanes between the Stafford-Kupp combo. Using the entire field more creatively prevents this. Tutu Atwell on end-arounds instead of Robert Woods, perhaps. One thing’s getting more obvious to opposing linebackers; if Woods doesn’t fire off the line while the play goes away from Kupp, it must be a run of some kind.
And yet with all that said, Stafford and the Rams still have too much offensive firepower at their disposal. Additionally, their defense is still a top five defense through Weeks 1 and 2.
In two games, Tampa Bay has allowed 29 points and 25 points to the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons respectively. In their 48-25 victory over the Falcons, the 4th quarter began with Falcons trailing only by a field goal. The game had been played much tougher than the final score and the Bucs were at home.
The Rams, on the other hand, fought off a better team in the Indianapolis Colts on the road. This came after a Sunday Night Football game the previous week throwing their timing off a bit. Now toss in and stir a pound of Aaron Donald disrupting the pocket Brady continuously stepped up in last week. You have a recipe for at least one disastrous play in the Rams favor.
Week 3 Prediction: Rams 34, Bucs 27
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