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Why John Wolford is so important to the Rams this year

NFL teams must prioritize having a quality backup quarterback this season, as much as they can

Los Angeles Rams mini camp at SoFi Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

LA Rams quarterback John Wolford has a warm, inviting smile that could light up any room. Some might even say that he looks like a young Jimmi Simpson, a name that may not be as familiar with as his It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia character, “Liam McPoyle.”

Young Liam McPoyle:

Premiere of “Loser” Photo by Online USA

Fairly recent John Wolford:

Wild Card Round - Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

You may not know that the original title of Sunny was “It’s Always Sunny on TV” and it was set in Los Angeles, California prior to moving the sitcom’s setting to Philadelphia. But the Rams like Wolford right where he is in Sunny SoCal and they have no plans to let him relocate to the Eagles or any other team.

Not any time soon, at least.

That’s for a number of reasons, including the trust that Sean McVay has in his 25-year-old signal-caller after we all witnessed Wolford help lead Los Angeles to an 18-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17 of last season. The win helped guarantee the Rams a trip to the postseason, which potentially would have meant at least four more quarters of Wolford, if not for having to leave the wild card game early with a head injury.

It’s that scenario — unexpectedly losing the starting quarterback — that will help guarantee Wolford’s place as Matthew Stafford’s backup in 2021. Not only because of the normal reasons that teams need quality depth at important positions, but also due to the COVID-19 restrictions that have already seen a number of QBs need to be quarantined and separated from their teams already.

Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

In New England, the competition to be the Patriots starting quarterback in Week 1 may have gotten a boost towards the finish line when Cam Newton was put into isolation because of a “misunderstanding” of the rules. Rookie Mac Jones has had glowing praise this week and it is increasingly likely that Newton will revert to being the insurance option, not Jones.

On Thursday, the Tennessee Titans placed quarterback Ryan Tannehill on the COVID-19 reserve list. Tannehill, a vaccinated player, will miss at least five days now. He must pass two tests for the virus, spread 24 hours apart, before he can return to the team. It could be as many as 10 days before he returns, more if he is unable to pass those tests.

The Baltimore Ravens have had the same issues with 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson, and the Minnesota Vikings know that on any given week, Kirk Cousins is opening up the door for a prolonged absence by not being vaccinated. One of Cousins’ backups, rookie Kellen Mond, tested positive last month.

By all accounts, Stafford is vaccinated and the LA Rams have said that they would like to be close to 100% vaccinated by Week 1. This does not, however, mean that Stafford couldn’t potentially test positive and go into quarantine, and that’s yet another reason why McVay has stated that Wolford is not going to play in the final preseason game unless something happens to the game’s starter, Bryce Perkins.

Perkins played every snap in LA’s most recent preseason contest, and will likely do the same on Saturday against the Denver Broncos, as the team is treating Wolford’s health just important as the health of Stafford.

These scenarios could also be what makes Perkins’ odds of making the final 53-man roster slightly better, if McVay wants to be even more protected against the worst case outcome, so that the Rams may avoid a potential “Kendall Hinton” scenario. However, newer NFL rules also means that they could have Perkins on the practice squad — if he passes through waivers — and be able to activate him on game day just in case.

Let’s just hope that John Wolford takes better care of himself than Liam McPoyle.