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Mysterious absence of backup QB Stetson Bennett looming large for Rams

Matthew Stafford’s performance against Cowboys warrants benching, but there’s no good option at backup QB

Los Angeles Rams v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Nothing is going well for the Los Angeles Rams Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. After a fiery start by LA’s defense that sacked Dak Prescott multiple times on the opening drive, Dallas was able to keep the chains moving and marched down the field for a touchdown and early lead. Matthew Stafford threw a pick-six that broke open the game, and the Rams find themselves down 33-3 late in the second quarter.

It would be a good time to send Stafford—who started 6/12 (50%) for 58 yards and the aforementioned pix-six—to the bench. LA’s franchise quarterback has taken several hits already in this game and had his shoulder tended to on the sideline after a physical sack by star Micah Parsons.

Unfortunately for LA, there’s no good option to turn to at quarterback after Stafford. The mysterious absence of rookie QB Stetson Bennett is looming large today in Dallas.

When Los Angeles selected Bennett in the fourth round of this spring’s NFL Draft, they thought they had found their long-term solution for Stafford’s understudy and someone they could potentially develop into a starter. Instead, Bennett never dressed in a Rams uniform for a regular season game. Ahead of the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks, LA promoted Brett Rypien from the practice squad and made the rookie inactive. Just a few days later, the Rams placed Bennett on the NFL’s non-football injury list (NFI) and there’s seemingly no update or timetable for his return.

Head coach Sean McVay has kept virtually all details private out of respect for Bennett—and we won’t pry for the same reasons—but not having a reliable backup quarterback is coming back to bight the Rams.

TST’s Jake Ellenbogen criticized the team’s approach to reserve quarterback this week and pointed out current free agents that could be better options at this point then Rypien, including Carson Wentz, Colt McCoy and others:

Some may hear this and think it doesn’t matter because this team isn’t trying to win but I disagree with that notion. I think the team has just been irresponsible at the quarterback position. Brett Rypien did not make the team initially, it wasn’t until Stetson Bennett who was bothered by a shoulder and then an undisclosed personal issue went on the Non-Football Injury list. As previously stated, it has been irresponsible for the Rams to trot Stafford out there with Rypien as his backup.

The Rams find themselves in a very difficult position with Stafford. Is it wise to leave him in this game against a formidable Dallas front? Stafford’s contract prevents him from being a moveable piece of the roster for the foreseeable future, so in order to protect that investment is may be wise to prevent as much of a physical toll as possible. Sending in Rypien would be equivalent to waiving the white flag, and that may not be the right message to send to such a young roster.

LA’s options are seemingly dwindling through the draft as well. They’ve likely already won too many games to be in range of the top two prospects in Caleb Williams and Drake Maye. The next tier of college quarterbacks haven’t come to fruition to round out the rest of the class as many expected. Michigan’s JJ McCarthy is probably worth a first-round selection, but he has not been battle tested much this year and maybe won’t until the playoffs (assuming the Wolverines participate). Quinn Ewers has flashed the raw ability that made him a top recruit, but he needs all the playing time he can get and is now dealing with a multi-week injury. He would be a developmental pick in the late first or second rounds.

The Rams seem destined to fall to a 3-5 record on the season. Where do they go from here? Will they invest more heavily in a backup quarterback at the trade deadline, or consider signing a veteran off the street?