This is what a freak show looks like to Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury: Matthew Stafford slinging perfect passes to his new favorite target, Cooper Kupp, in a Sean McVay offense that looks entirely different, and more dangerous, with the former Detroit Lions star at its helm.
Stafford comes from a proud tradition of gifted quarterbacks from the state of Texas, and as a Texas native himself, Kingsbury is plenty familiar with Stafford’s career going back to high school, at which time Kingsbury was navigating his brief career as an NFL quarterback.
“It’s legendary,” Kingsbury said of Stafford’s arm, per ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss. “He is a freak show at that position, and his skillset’s really getting the chance to show in Sean’s offense.”
Kingsbury’s Cardinals travel to Los Angeles on Sunday in a battle of 3-0 teams that, barring a tie, will produce a sole leader in the NFC West.
Nobody’s ever questioned the arm talent that made Stafford a star at the University of Georgia, the No. 1 pick of the 2009 NFL draft, or the quarterback to reach 30,000 career yards in fewer games (109) than any passer since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. Through three games with the Rams, however, Stafford appears to be unlocking a higher level of play, surrounded by a more talented roster.
Stafford has a passer rating of 129.8 that’s second only to Russell Wilson in the NFL, an average of 10 yards per attempt that also trails only Wilson, and a total of nine touchdown passes that ranks behind only Tom Brady. Meanwhile, he’s been sacked just three times in three games. The Rams’ strong start in pass protection will draw a challenge from Arizona LB Chandler Jones, whose five sacks — all amassed in one game — lead the NFC.
Kingsbury also had high praise for Rams CB Jalen Ramsey, whose Pro Football Focus grade of 79.1 ranks tied for third among NFL cornerbacks. The four-time Pro Bowler will be looking for his second interception of the season against the Cardinals own standout QB, Kyler Murray.
“I mean, up to this point he’s probably the defensive MVP when you see how he’s affected games and he’s been dominant on the perimeter,” Kingsbury said of Ramsey, “whether he’s asked to cover or go and tackle, blow up screens, he’s just been all over the place.”
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