When Jared Goff was at quarterback, few teams used play action as much as the Los Angeles Rams did. In 2020, they had the most play-action pass attempts (194) in the NFL, according to Pro Football Reference. That number dropped to 128 last year with Matthew Stafford under center, ranking them 16th in the NFL, right in the middle of the pack.
On Sunday against the Cardinals, Sean McVay hit Arizona’s defense with a heavy dosage of play action. Next Gen Stats shared that the Rams used play action on 46.2% of their passing plays Sunday, which is Stafford’s highest rate in the last seven seasons.
It was working to near perfection, too. He completed 10 of 11 throws off play action, totaling 168 yards. He didn’t have a touchdown in the game, but Stafford was sharp overall – and most importantly, he avoided costly turnovers.
It was good to see Stafford in a rhythm, especially when the Rams used play action. It helps that the running game was relatively effective with Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr. combining for 78 yards on 16 carries, but Stafford did a nice job finding open receivers over the middle – an area of the field he hadn’t been targeting much.
It’s no secret that play action works best when there’s a legitimate threat of running the ball, so as long as Akers and Henderson keep picking up chunks of yardage, linebackers and safeties will be forced to bite on the fakes.