Ed: How much has Matthew Stafford changed the Rams’ offense, and their expectations?
Kenneth: Expectations would depend on who you are asking. It lifted my expectations by a lot because I did not think Jared Goff was a good quarterback, even when he was a good quarterback. I’ve long thought Matthew Stafford to be a good quarterback though, so given the importance of the position, expectations went up significantly. Five games into the season, I think now most people agree that the Rams have high expectations because Matthew Stafford gives Sean McVay a downfield passing threat that he didn’t have with Goff. That was evident immediately.
Ed: Did the Rams really have to sign DeSean Jackson? As much as Giants fans hate the Eagles and Cowboys, they might hate Jackson more. The real question is, how much of a factor is he for the Rams?
Kenneth: Yes, DeSean Jackson gives the Rams a speed threat that was lacking in the last two years without Brandin Cooks — the injured version or the Texans version. They also drafted Tutu Atwell in the second round, a receiver whose NFL comp at the time was DeSean Jackson, so this is really a one-year plan to reunite him with Sean McVay. The pair worked together for some of Jackson’s best work in Washington. His production has been and probably will continue to be unpredictable, it just depends on the matchups.
Ed: If you could take one player off the Giants’ roster and put him in the Rams’ lineup, who would it be? Why?
Kenneth: I would take Andrew Thomas because I thought he looked great coming out of Georgia and call me “Dave Gettleman” if you must but I would’ve drafted him over the other tackles too. I actually would’ve taken Justin Herbert but that’s beside the point. If the Giants are going to screw that up, then at least give the Rams the second chance at it because that has revived some tackle prospects in the past.
It was really hard to pass up on Kadarius Toney though, as I was also high on him coming out of Florida and was excited to see what he’s done the last two weeks. It’s just going to be much harder to find a left tackle after Andrew Whitworth than it will be to find another dynamic receiver.
Ed: From the outside looking in, what do you see when you consider the Giants?
Kenneth: I see a lot of promising pieces but the Eli Manning succession plan has been terribly bungled year after year, in my opinion. From opportunities to draft certain players prior to Daniel Jones and after Daniel Jones, it just seems to be the missed opportunity that could cost the Giants wins in this current era. I am not even saying that Daniel Jones couldn’t turn his career around, but if you’re asking what I see right now, it’s a) injury woes and b) a lot of issues leading back to the quarterback, including his own injury woes.
Ed: We know the Giants are heavy underdogs on Sunday. We know the Rams should win the game. If the Giants are going to have a chance to pull off an upset, what is that going to look like? What do they have to accomplish?
Kenneth: The Rams were not a bad team last year, they made the playoffs and got to the divisional round, but certainly they were nowhere near the team of 2018 or the team of 2021. However, they were still a good team that lost to the previously 0-13 Jets at home last season. There are two key differences: Matthew Stafford and Raheem Morris, the defensive coordinator who replaced Brandon Staley. I’m not putting the defensive performance all on Morris, or even mostly on Morris, but I’m using him just as an overall message that the defense is not as stingy as it was a year ago when these two teams met. For that reason, I surely do not think that the Rams are guaranteed to win. Also because the Giants have talent capable to take advantage if Stafford makes a mistake, which he’s been prone to do in the last two games.
If the Giants aren’t as injury bitten at receiver or offensive line or quarterback as they appeared coming out of last week, then they could certainly score against the Rams defense. If Stafford makes a couple of mistakes, the game will at least be much closer than expected.