Insider take: Rams’ Stafford era unleashed, while Bears sputter into Fields future

Safid Deen
USA TODAY Sports Plus

Matthew Stafford’s first touchdown pass brought the excitement. His second touchdown provided an enthused sense of comfort. And his third was the perfect bow on his home debut in Los Angeles.

The Rams love their new quarterback situation. And if Stafford can stay healthy and continue producing big plays with a stout defense supporting him, the Rams could compete in the NFC this season.

Stafford’s three touchdown passes in a 34-14 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday night marked a new era for the Rams, who grew so frustrated with former starter Jared Goff, they traded him away to acquire their new quarterback.

And if you want to talk about frustration, look no further than the Bears, who gave rookie Justin Fields only three touches in his highly anticipated debut.

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It's unfortunate Fields, the Bears quarterback’ of the future with star potential, was not unleashed in a nationally televised game against the Rams to end Week 1.

Fields’ final stat line: Two complete passes for 10 yards, a 3-yard touchdown run and fewer than seven total fantasy points.

Fields completed his first pass for 9 yards on the fifth play of the game, only to see starter Andy Dalton mercifully throw an interception in the end zone two plays later from the sideline.

Late in the third quarter with the Rams leading 20-7, the Bears sent Fields in near the goal line to score on a designed 3-yard touchdown run toward the right side, which he scored with relative ease.

Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields.

After narrowing the score to 20-14, Fields was surprisingly limited to just one more touch in the entire game. 

Even if it was just for a few plays, the Bears were ignited with a spark on offense. And the limited snaps makes you really wonder why Nagy’s approach with Fields was so conservative.

Dalton, meanwhile, was efficient but not spectacular. He completed 27 of 38 passes for 206 yards without a touchdown.

“However my role plays out, I'm going to be here for the team,” Fields said after the game. “Whatever this team and Coach Nagy needs me to do to help us win, I'm going to do.”

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While the Bears may have a long-term answer at quarterback in Fields, Stafford must be the Rams’ savior at the position as early as this season.

Stafford flashed his touch, efficiency and appreciation for his new teammates by completing 20 of 26 passes for 321 yards with touchdowns to three receivers in six scoring drives.

Stafford threw a 67-yard touchdown to Van Jefferson in stride during his first series, then tossed a 56-yard touchdown to Cooper Kupp to start the second half. His final touchdown was a 2-yard strike to Robert Woods in the back of the end zone.

“They wrapped their arms around me, and it felt good to go out there and play with them,” Stafford said of his new Rams teammates after the game. “I’m lucky to be a part of it. I want to do everything I can to lead this team to where we want to go.”

Stafford’s talent immediately elevates the Rams to contender status again. Los Angeles last played in a Super Bowl with Goff in 2018.

Plus they have a defense touting Aaron Darnold, the best defensive lineman in the league; Jalen Ramsey, the most flamboyant and freakishly athletic cornerback in the NFL; and other standouts, such as defensive linemen Leonard Floyd and A’Shawn Robinson, and safety Jordan Fuller.

The Rams are in win-now mode and might have the quarterback in Stafford to keep them in the conversation with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks in the NFC.

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