Matthew Stafford was off on Sunday, but not because of the Cardinals defense

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Matthew Stafford did not play particularly well against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday – his first poor performance with the Rams. He threw an interception on a deep shot to DeSean Jackson, sailed a couple of passes over the heads of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp and was inaccurate in the red zone.

He knows he played poorly, failing to meet the high standards he has for himself. And as well as Arizona’s defense has been playing, Stafford isn’t pinning his struggles on the Cardinals. He blames himself for missing throws and not doing enough to win the game.

“No, it wasn’t their defense. It was just on me,” he said after the Rams’ 37-20 loss. “I’ve got to make those throws. It’s pretty plain and simple, to be honest with you.”

If you look at the box score, the Cardinals only broke up three of Stafford’s 41 passes – including the interception. They weren’t exactly making great plays on the ball to force incompletions. It was Stafford who missed the throws and couldn’t connect with his receivers.

According to Next Gen Stats, his aggressiveness rate was 14.6%, which is the rate in which he threw into tight windows. His season average is 11.9 – fifth-lowest in the NFL – so this game was slightly above his normal rate.

When he had to, he proved he can make tight-window throws, like this one to Cooper Kupp.

The Cardinals didn’t make it easy on Stafford and he was under pressure fairly often, even if he wasn’t sacked a single time. He completed just five of his 11 passes when pressured, according to Pro Football Focus, compared to 21-for-30 when not under pressure.

His passing chart was still impressive despite the fact that he didn’t play all that well, completing seven passes at least 15 yards down the field with two touchdowns and one interception.

This wasn’t a case of the Cardinals figuring out the Rams offense. It was more about Stafford missing throws and not being on the same page with his receivers, specifically Kupp.

We have to remember this is only his fourth game in this offense. There are growing pains to be had. It just so happens that they came on Sunday against the Cardinals, and Stafford knows there’s room for improvement.

“I think I just didn’t make enough plays,” he said. “There was some opportunities early in that game for us to score points and, you know, for me to make some throws and I didn’t make those. It’s obviously disappointing. I don’t want to not make those throws. I want to make those for our guys and for our team. I’ve just got to go back and be better.”

One play he definitely wants back is the throw to Kupp down the seam where he led the wideout a bit too much, resulting in an incompletion on third down. It would’ve gone for a substantial gain, but the two couldn’t connect.

He also regrets a deep shot to Tyler Higbee down the sideline where he didn’t give the tight end a chance to make a play on the ball.

“I tried to hold the safety in the middle of the field and by the time I peeked back, I felt like he was kind of stumbling out of his route a little bit,” Stafford explained. “So I threw it to a spot where I’m sitting there going, ‘Man, I wish I would have just…’ I think right as I let it go, he probably gains his momentum again and he’s hauling wide open down the field. So I got to give him opportunities. I think of that one. I think of the early third down to Higbee down the sideline early in the game. Just give him a chance, you know? Don’t leave that one where no one can catch it. You know, there’s a few in there that I sit and think about those where, you know, those are just physical errors. You don’t want to live with them but you kind of have to. And you got to learn from them and figure out why they happened and just go be better from there.”

Stafford has had bad games before. He’s bounced back from them plenty. And he’ll have a chance to do just that on Thursday night against the Seahawks.

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Rams PFF grades: Best and worst performers vs. Cardinals