During Wednesday’s press conference, L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay announced that quarterback Matthew Stafford has entered concussion protocol. This could cost Stafford his first start since joining the Rams last season.
This comes as a surprise, as the starting quarterback never left the game Sunday or showed any indications of an injury. Nevertheless, the health and safety of Matthew Stafford the person is much more important in the grand scheme of things, so the Rams will need to find a way to win the game this week with or without their quarterback.
Sean McVay says QB Matthew Stafford is in concussion protocol, game status still up in the air— Cliff Jackson Jr. (@CliffJacksonn) November 9, 2022
Assuming Matthew Stafford is unable to clear concussion protocol, the man under center against the Arizona Cardinals will be John Wolford, the backup quarterback for the Rams since 2020.
Wolford made his first start for the Rams in a Week 17 do-or-die game against, you guessed it, the Arizona Cardinals back in the 2020 season. Los Angeles needed a win in order to make the playoffs, which is not particularly ideal circumstances for an undrafted rookie to make his debut.
However, Wolford played solid in that game, leading the Rams to an 18-7 victory to help punch their ticket to the postseason. Here are his best plays from his first career start:
Right away, there are a couple glaring differences between Wolford and the two quarterbacks (Jared Goff, Stafford) he has been the back up for during his tenure in the NFL. That difference is mobility and the constant threat to break the pocket. While Stafford and Goff were pure pocket passers, Wolford adds a new aspect to the Rams offense that opposing teams are not used to defending, which is the quarterback scrambling.
Wolford also displayed the ability to throw on time and in rhythm, an ability that is key to finding success in McVay’s system. In the video above, we also see the manner in which Wolford goes through his reads is consistent with solid quarterback play, as he shows he can quickly move through his progressions while also having the awareness to move around the pocket when there is pressure.
The second start of Wolford’s career was the Wild Card playoff game back in January of 2021, a game in which he did not get to finish due to an injury on a designed run for the quarterback. Just as he seemed to be settling into the ball game, he was knocked out of it and was unable to finish, so he really only has one full game of film to evaluate.
Given the recent struggles of the Arizona Cardinals, as well as how well the Rams were able to run the ball on them earlier in the season, John Wolford will be just fine if he needs to play should Matthew Stafford remain in concussion protocol.
Third-string QB Bryce Perkins, a man that many fans would like to see get a shot, will be the backup in that scenario. Although Perkins has shown flashes in the preseason, the sheer talent jump from the second half of a preseason game vs. a regular season divisional match-up would be too much.
Given the experience factor that Wolford has over Perkins, I fully expect Wolford to be the man to start in Stafford’s first missed game as a Ram. And I expect him to be able to handle it.