Rams coach Sean McVay intercepts Matthew Stafford’s turnovers

That’s not a problem for Rams coach Sean McVay.

At least not yet. Maybe ever.

Two games into the season, Matthew Stafford is right where he was at the end of the 2021 regular season: No. 1 in the NFL for most pass interceptions.

Stafford goes into Sunday’s NFC West opener with the Arizona Cardinals (1-1) after intercepting five passes — three in a season-opening loss at the hands of the Buffalo Bills and two in last Sunday’s win over the Atlanta Falcons.

“They want those at least,” McVay said Wednesday, “but I also want to make sure there’s a fine line in not allowing him to compete at a high level. Where we want to be smart but aggressive.”

Extensive interceptions don’t necessarily spell disaster for a Rams team trying to become the first in the NFL to repeat as Super Bowl champions since the 2004 New England Patriots.

Last season, Stafford had the highest rookie Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL with his 17 interceptions.

But Stafford passed 41 touchdowns and the Rams won Super Bowl LVI.

Stafford, 34, is in his 14th NFL season, his second with the Rams. He had 166 pass interceptions in 184 regular-season games.

“They never want to turn the ball over, don’t want to hurt the team,” Stafford said. “It’s all about this.

“It’s not about me, it’s not about my stats. It’s about what it’s doing to our team, and I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can… to help our team win, and not the opposite of it.

“So of course it’s a fine line to make sure you play the game the way you know how to play the game but take good care of it. And of course I can do better in the first two.”

The Cardinals, who were routed by the Kansas City Chiefs in their first game and came back to defeat the Las Vegas Raiders, are giving up a league-high 33.5 points per game. They’re second-to-bottom in pass defense, giving up 302 yards per game, haven’t caught a pass, and have just one sack.

Since joining the Rams, Stafford has been mostly successful against the Cardinals, catching seven touchdowns with just one interception.

In a week four game last season, Stafford completed 20 of 37 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns with an interception in a 37-20 loss at SoFi Stadium.

Two months later, he was 23-of-30 for 287 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in a 30-23 win at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

In a 34-11 NFC wildcard win at SoFi Stadium, Stafford completed 13 of 17 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.

Stafford is “a Hall of Fame quarterback” and “one of the toughest players I’ve ever seen,” said Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury.

“It looks like if you blitz him, he’ll have an answer,” Kingsbury said during a conference call with Los Angeles reporters, “and if you try to sit back and play reporting, he’ll find the open guy.” He’s been doing that for a long time.”

Like Stafford, Kingsbury is from Texas.

“I’m happy with the success he’s had,” Kingsbury said, before quipping, “just hope he plays really badly on Sunday.”

Etc.

The NFL announced that tight end Brycen Hopkins has been suspended for three games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Hopkins, who was not targeted in the first two games, may not return to the active roster until after the Rams’ Oct. 9 game against the Dallas Cowboys. Tyler Higbee is the only remaining tight end on the roster. Jared Pinkney and Roger Carter Jr. are tight ends of the practice team. … The Rams have signed takkarist McKinley as a defensive end, the team announced. McKinley had been on the Tennessee Titans practice team. McKinley played at UCLA and was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the 26th pick in the 2017 draft. He played four seasons with the Falcons, where Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris was on staff, and last season with the Cleveland Browns. McKinley has 20 career sacks. …cornerback Cobie Durant (hamstring) didn’t practice. Cornerback David Long (groin) was restricted, according to the Rams injury report.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/rams/story/2022-09-21/rams-matthew-stafford-nfl-leading-five-interceptions Rams coach Sean McVay intercepts Matthew Stafford’s turnovers

Emma Bowman

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