THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — When the Los Angeles Rams wrap up their three-day mandatory minicamp by practicing at SoFi Stadium on Thursday, it will be the first chance for fans to see them live at the multi-billion dollar facility.
While they get a peek at where their seats will be for the upcoming season or scout out concession stands, Matthew Stafford will be looking for the location of the play clock and game clock, all part of the quarterback’s continuing adjustment after being dealt from Detroit to Los Angeles in a trade that was agreed to in January and became official in March.
“It’s definitely a change of scenery for me,” Stafford said Wednesday.
Stafford hopes coming to the Rams will bring a different vantage point of the playoffs. He took the Lions to three postseason berths but lost in the Wild Card round each time. With the Rams still holding Super Bowl aspirations two seasons removed from their title game loss to New England, the ideal scenario for both parties would be playing for a championship on their home field next February.
But those lofty aims are not important to Stafford right now. His focus is on understanding everything about his new setting, from getting coach Sean McVay’s offense down to refining timing with his receivers.
Stafford likes how the transition has gone so far.
“I definitely have learned quite a bit,” Stafford said. “This is a complex offense just like all of them are, and just being able to kind of forget what I’ve learned in the past and move forward with the terminology and the new scheme is something that’s always a challenge, no matter if you’re moving cities and states and teams and all that kind of stuff or moving coordinators in the same team. So I’ve been through it before.“
The biggest adjustment for Stafford might be in how he distributes targets in the passing game. In Detroit, he tended to feature a big-bodied receiver when he had Calvin Johnson early on in his career and Kenny Golladay in recent years.
However, the Rams lack an option capable of making contested catches on a regular basis. Stafford’s new receiving corps is built around crafty players in Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson and speedy threats in DeSean Jackson and Tutu Atwell.
Stafford doesn’t think it will be a challenge adjusting to how they play.
“You’re just trying to see guys, feel where they’re going and put it in a good spot,” Stafford said. “Each guy kind of has their own strength when it comes to where they’re able to catch the ball away from their body or not. That’s things you kind of get used to in practice and things like that, but for me as a quarterback I’m trying to out them all on the money and just let those guys do their job as easy as they possibly can.”
During the six-week break before training camp opens on July 27, Stafford plans to hold workouts with his wideouts to continue building a rapport with them.
Jefferson expects those sessions will be helpful, but the second-year receiver is pleased with the connection Stafford has already built with the group.
“I think we’re all comfortable with him,” Jefferson said. “He’s getting more comfortable with us, and I think that’s coming with timing and throwing over and over again.”
With an eye towards postseason success, Stafford said he will do whatever it takes to be ready.
“I know I have a big challenge in front of me to make sure that I’m leading this team as best as I possibly can,” Stafford said. “All they want from me is to play at a high level and do things the right way so that’s what I’m going to try and do, but it’s definitely a big challenge and something I’m looking forward to.”