Matthew Stafford Talks Super Bowl Repeat, 'Bistro & Banter' and More in B/R Interview

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVApril 26, 2022

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) gestures at the line of scrimmage against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 56 football game Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Matthew Stafford couldn't have scripted a better first season with the Los Angeles Rams if he tried.

So, naturally, he isn't changing a thing with the 2022 campaign on the horizon.

"I don't think it does," Stafford told Bleacher Report when asked how his mindset and the approach changes with a target on his back as a Super Bowl champion. "I think we play in the most competitive league there is and anybody can beat anybody on any Sunday. I approached the offseason the exact same way. I will approach the season when it gets here the exact same way. I understand that it's going to take everything we have as a team to go out there and get wins on Sunday, and let the chips fall where they may."

That approach worked wonders for Stafford last year after he came to the Rams via trade from the Detroit Lions.

First, he established an immediate connection with Cooper Kupp, which helped the wide receiver make his first career Pro Bowl and win the Offensive Player of the Year while leading the league across the board in catches (145), receiving yards (1,947) and touchdown catches (16).

Then, he led the Rams to an NFC West crown and 12-5 record before defeating Tom Brady and the reigning-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the playoffs. Stafford eventually outlasted the Cincinnati Bengals in a dramatic 23-20 Super Bowl victory that fittingly saw him throw the winning touchdown pass to Kupp in the final two minutes.

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COOPER KUPP GIVES THE RAMS THE LEAD. WOW.<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a>)<a href="https://t.co/eW2n2El5Cf">pic.twitter.com/eW2n2El5Cf</a>

All that did was motivate him to chase more.

"I think the biggest thing for me now is getting a taste of hoisting the Lombardi and what it's like to celebrate that with a team. It only makes you want it that much more," Stafford said. "Excited about the opportunity of starting over again since each year is a brand new year to try to figure out a way to do it again."

Doing it again would mean navigating a new-look NFL after a wild offseason with no shortage of storylines.

Brady retired and then returned, Aaron Rodgers came back to the Green Bay Packers, Russell Wilson was traded to the Denver Broncos, Davante Adams was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders, Deshaun Watson joined the Cleveland Browns and Khalil Mack was moved to the Los Angeles Chargers, among other changes.

Stafford's Rams were not immune.

They traded Robert Woods to the Tennessee Titans and saw Von Miller leave for the Buffalo Bills. However, they also added wide receiver Allen Robinson to the aerial attack, which was welcome news for a quarterback who used to watch him catch passes as an NFC North rival.

"I had a ton of respect for him when I had a front-row seat to watch him do his thing in Chicago when I was in Detroit," Stafford said of Robinson. "I was excited to add a player like that, but when you add players like that it means you're moving on from other guys. We traded Robert Woods soon after that, and I have so much respect for Woody and what he did for me when I first got here. It's a great thing, but it's a tough thing all at the same time. This is an unbelievable business that we play in. Our teams change year in and year out, but adding a guy like Allen is exciting. He's a really talented player, and I'm excited to work with him."

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 09: Allen Robinson #12 of the Chicago Bears heads to the locker room before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 9, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Robinson is coming off a disappointing 2021 season with 38 catches for 410 yards and one touchdown as part of a struggling Chicago Bears offense, but he surpassed 1,100 receiving yards the previous two years and led the league with 14 touchdown catches to go with 1,400 receiving yards in 2015.

But before Stafford gets to throw regular-season passes to Robinson, he will participate in a "Bistro & Banter" live event on behalf of Courtyard by Marriott.

Stafford will join Michigan pass-rusher and potential No. 1 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson to share stories as part of a moderated discussion ahead of the 2022 NFL draft. The event takes place Wednesday at 6 p.m. PT at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas and is open to NFL fans who are 21 years or older.

Courtyard by Marriott will also give away 15 pairs of VIP access tickets to the draft for fans in attendance.

"Just an old guy like me talking with a young guy in Aidan, who is going to come into this league and play at a high level," Stafford said of the event. "The cool thing is Courtyard is giving away 15 sets of VIP tickets so people can watch the draft on Thursday in a VIP setting, which is a special thing. Having been drafted and knowing what that's all about, people getting to experience that in a VIP setting is something that I'm happy to be partnered up with."

If there is anyone who can give Hutchinson or other potential No. 1 picks advice, it is Stafford.

After all, the Lions selected him with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 NFL draft after he completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 3,459 yards, 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the way to a 10-3 record and Capital One Bowl win over Michigan State in his final collegiate season at Georgia.

NEW YORK - APRIL 25:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stands with Detroit Lions #1 draft pick Matthew Stafford at  Radio City Music Hall for the 2009 NFL Draft on April 25, 2009 in New York City  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Despite being the first name called, Stafford's best memory of draft day involved running back Knowshon Moreno, one of his college teammates, going No. 12 overall to the Broncos.

"It was a whirlwind," he said. "I was lucky because the night before the draft I found out I was going first. So my blood pressure was down a little bit and I could relax just a hair. I remember getting drafted and walking through for a bunch of interviews and peeking back and seeing my college teammate Knowshon getting drafted. Which was such a cool thing having spent those years with him at Georgia. That's a fun thing to think about as a player, and looking back on it, it was a special moment for me and for Knowshon."

This year's draft figures to be a special moment for a number of Georgia players after it won the College Football Playoff national championship behind pass-rushers such as Travon Walker, Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt.

While Stafford's Rams don't have any first-round picks, he will have his eyes on his fellow Bulldogs.

"There's a couple guys on that Georgia defense line that I watched and pulled for this past season," he said. "I'm looking forward to watching those guys get drafted, I'm sure they'll get drafted early on. Hopefully by teams not in my division so I don't have to face them."

Of course, facing a Super Bowl champion quarterback in Stafford wouldn't exactly be a walk in the park for them, either.