The annual cold and flu season is generally considered to be at its peak between December and February. This December, the COVID-19 flu or one its variants has sped through the Rams facilities like wildfire.
This week 29 players have been put on the illness list and skeletonized LA’s active roster and practice squad. The NFL has reacted by moving the Rams-Seahawks game from Sunday to Tuesday, with the hopes that most of those Rams will be able to return; LA got news on Saturday that Jalen Ramsey would be one of those activations.
Rams (and Jalen Ramsey) got the news around the third quarter of tonight’s Pats-Colts game. He has tested negative and is good to go for Tuesday’s game Vs Seattle. @NFLonFOX— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) December 19, 2021
What would become of the Rams gameday active roster IF no players can qualify to be returned the team for action? Here’s a peek at what the starting lineups and their backups would look like in a worst-case scenario.
Starting lineups are in bold.
- Matthew Stafford/ John Wolford and Bryce Perkins
- RB Sony Michel/ Mekhi Sargent and Javian Hawkins
- WR Cooper Kupp/ Brandon Powell
- WR Van Jefferson/ JJ Koski and Landen Akers
- WR Ben Skowronek/ Warren Jackson
- TE Kendall Blanton
- LT Andrew Whitworth/ Max Pircher
- LG David Edwards/ Chandler Brewer
- C Coleman Shelton/ Brian Allen?
- RG Austin Corbett/ Jeremiah Kolone
- RT Joseph Noteboom/
The starting lineup is the same as in the victory over the Arizona Cardinals, but is very thin and limited. No two tight end or jumbo (six offensive linemen) sets. Allen is still nursing a knee injury and Edwards a foot, further diluting a shallow OL pool.
Stafford still has weapons, although one of receivers will have to really step if the Seahawks decide to bracket Kupp with double coverage. Expect Michel to have 20+ carries.
No reason for the offense to miss a beat, most of these players are used to playing 90+ percent of snaps. Rams are in position to compete in a shoot out with Seattle.
- E Leonard Floyd/ Earnest Brown
- DT Aaron Donald/ Michael Hoecht
- NT Greg Gaines/ Bobby Brown
- DT A’Shawn Robinson/ Marquise Copeland
- E Jamir Jones/ Chris Garrett and Terrell Lewis?
- LB Ernest Jones/ Anthony Hines
- CB Darious Williams/
- CB David Long/
- STAR Jalen Ramsey/
- S Taylor Rapp/
- S Nick Scott/
Nothing to see on the defensive line, having 4/5ths of your starting unit in game 14 is as good anyone could expect. It would be a huge step up in class for Jamir Joes and Chris Garrett against a physical team like the Seahawks. Lewis could help the rotation if his back has healed.
Ernest Jones has moved to a starting role, but is far from dominant. His backup, Hines is a very raw prospect whose ceiling might be contributing on special teams.
Williams and Long can handle the outside of the secondary.
There’s no secret to what Seattle will want to do. Pound the run game and throw deep when the defense sucks up. If QB Russell Wilson can’t throw deep, he will use his feet to move his team. In the past, the Rams have corralled Wilson pretty well, but chasing him down wears out the big guys. Could Hoecht, Brown and Copeland hold up vs. a power run game, if forced into more than a handful of snaps?
- P Johnny Hekker
- K Matt Gay
- LS Matt Orzech
That’s it, the whole ST group. Without players being activated from the COVID-19 Reserve List or wholesale free agent signings, return and coverage units would have to be cobbled from the names listed above as backups.
Brandon Powell could handle returner duties. It’s the coverage units that might struggle. It must be said that Hekker has only had six punts returned so far this season, and Gay should be able to kick the ball through the end zone indoors at SoFi Stadium.
So, would the Rams win?
Why not? This is the same LA offense that ran over the Cardinals, a very good defensive team, last Monday night. The Seattle pass defense is a bottom 10 unit and their run defense is middle of the pack.
There’s been a lot talk this week about the ‘Hawks getting their run game back in last week’s win over the Houston Texans. The Texans run defense is the one worst in the NFL, while the Rams are a top 10 unit.
Barring in-game injuries or a total Matthew Stafford meltdown, even with all the missing players, the Rams could and should beat the Seattle Seahawks.