Matthew Stafford excited about challenge of learning Sean McVay’s offense

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Cameron DaSilva
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In Matthew Stafford’s 12 years with the Lions, he had three different full-time head coaches and one interim coach. He had four offensive coordinators in that same span, from Scott Linehan to Darrell Bevell.

Next season, Stafford will have both a new head coach and offensive coordinator in Sean McVay and Kevin O’Connell, respectively. Having been through several coaching changes before, this is familiar territory for Stafford.

It will still be a challenge to learn McVay’s offense, though, which is something he’s excited to do.

“They’re always different. Each offense kind of has the things that are easy and normal to it and that are a little bit more difficult, so I’ll figure out what those are for me and go from there, but I’m not too worried about it,” he told reporters last week. “Like you said, I’ve done it before and I’m excited to get to do it and it’s a new challenge for me, especially with new teammates, like you said, and then an offseason that’s probably going to be limited, if anything. There are definitely challenges ahead, but I’ll do my homework and make sure I’m ready to go.”

McVay’s offense is unique in some ways. He calls a lot of pre-snap motions and play-action passes, trying to confuse the defense just before the snap and right after it. As a team, the Lions only attempted 113 play-action passes last season, which was 11th-fewest in the NFL.

The Rams, on the other hand, led the NFL with 185 play-action pass attempts in 2020. So that’s an area where Stafford will certainly have to adjust. Stafford doesn’t see many similarities between Darrell Bevell’s offense in Detroit last season and McVay’s system, but he doesn’t sound worried about the transition.

“I don’t believe it’s too similar. I think they’re pretty different,” he said. “I think just watching them from afar and then obviously trying to get to know it a little bit here and there if I can, it’s going to be different, it’s going to be a new language for me. I bet it’s going to probably be a little bit of a different style of play, but at the same time, that’s something that Sean and I will talk about to kind of figure out where my strengths have been in the past and where his strengths are as a team and as a play caller and we’ll blend some together and make it work.”

O’Connell is the Rams’ offensive coordinator and helps in the game-planning process, but McVay will be the one calling the plays. Stafford lauded McVay’s play designs and formation variety, always keeping the defense on its toes.

There will be a mix of McVay’s designs and Stafford’s strengths, finding the best way to match their styles on Sundays.

“I think Sean does a great job of designing plays. He does a great job of moving in and out of formations, creating difficulty for the defense,” he said. “That’s the name of the game on the offensive side of the ball, is to try to give the defense a bunch of things to think about, make them play defense and let us play offense. So, I think he does a great job of that. Obviously, we are going to work together I’m sure and figure out, ‘Hey, what have I done well in the past? And what do the guys on this team do a great job of?’ And we’ll blend it from there. It’s exciting, a lot of guys in my position have played at a high level under him, so I’m excited to get my chance.”