Stetson Bennett reflected on his Georgia football career on Saturday night when asked about improving with the L.A. Rams at the NFL level.
“It’s hard to say when exactly it started to slow down,” said Bennett, who started games for UGA during the 2020 season before losing the job to J.T. Daniels and ultimately regaining starting duties en route to CFP Championship seasons in 2021 and 2022.
“I think it was a continuous process, and then all the sudden you are kind of there, and I guess that’s what it will be like here. You don’t really known until you arrive.”
Bennett arrived in Los Angeles as a fourth-round draft pick and has shown playmaking upside in the Rams’ first two scrimmages, justifying Coach Sean McVay’s confidence in him.
“All we can do is take the next step forward, that’s what I try to do each and every play and every practice, continuously getting better,” Bennett said, sounding much like his former head coach, Kirby Smart. “I think if you do that continuously, you will get better.”
Bennett’s second NFL exhibition appearance featured ups and downs, similar to his first one. The 25-year-old rookie made some strong throws and showed his quickness on a 4-yard TD scramble, but also, threw a Pick-6 in the 34-17 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
McVay said Bennett, overall, “did a nice job,” and accepted the Pick-6 as a mistake his quarterback will learn from.
Bennett said he does feel the NFL game is slowing down for him, in large part to the amount of work McVay has afforded him as he competes with veteran Brett Rypien for the job backing up starter Matthew Stafford.
“It started to (slow down) toward the end of it, in this game, that’s what reps do for you,” Bennett said. “Coach McVay says it’s the mother of all learning and it’s hard to disagree with him. There was times tonight where it did slow down for me and there were times it felt fast out there.”
Bennett used an old football axiom to explain the process.
“There’s an old saying called ‘See a little see a lot, and see a lot see a little, that’s probably what it is,” Bennett said. “Whenever it slows down, you block out all the details that don’t matter and see the ones that do, that’s the best way I can describe it.”
Bennett said it helped having his teammates support him, “everyone hitting me on the helmet saying we got your back, we got the next one.”
The Rams don’t have the sort of defense that Bennett played with at Georgia, so the margin for error is not the same.
Bennett will need to produce more than a touchdown and a field goal on eight drives in the NFL if he’s to ultimately win a starting job one day.
But his skills appear to be transitioning well, to the point he does not appear intimated or overmatched by the speed of the NFL game, including elite pass rushers.
Bennett referred to a Top Gun quote --- “If you think, you’re dead,” when asked about the pass rushers coming off the edge.
“It’s kind of like that, you have to see it and know what it looks like, they are coming fast,” Bennett said. “The hashes are closer, so everybody is a little bit tighter. 4-3 (alignment) is still 4-3, but everyone is smarter and knows how to use that size and speed more.”
Bennett said handling the adversity at the NFL level is a skill on to itself, and he feels he is learning to deal with it effectively after getting the majority of snaps in the Rams’ 0-2 exhibition start.
“It sucks to have to do, but you have to do it at some point,” Bennett said. “The more that has to happen — and hopefully it doesn’t happen that often — then you know how to respond.”