The Los Angeles Rams came out flat and seemed unprepared for what was likely their most important game of the 2023 season so far. LA fell 20-3 to the Green Bay Packers and dropped to a lowly 3-6 record on the year. The Rams—after starting out 3-3—have lost three games in a row and will turn their focus on preparing for the 2024 offseason instead of a postseason run.
While the Rams were tight-lipped regarding their starting quarterback situation leading up to the game, ultimately Matthew Stafford was inactive. Brett Rypien made the start and was just not good enough. We’ll have more on that later, and dive into the individual performances that led to such a paltry effort in Green Bay.
For the second week in a row, there will be no members on the Winners list. Even with Matthew Stafford starting last week against the Dallas Cowboys, the Rams collapsed as a team. Sunday’s loss in Green Bay was a four-quarter struggle where nearly nothing broke the team’s way—and when it did the offense was ill-prepared to take advantage.
There were some bright individual contributions on defense, and overall the defense did enough to keep the Rams in the game despite minimal offensive production. Still, no one deserves to be called a winner when LA had no shot at winning this crucial contest.
Rams management of the QB position
It’s fair to criticize the player and be disappointed with Brett Rypien’s performance against the Packers, but the team’s backup QB struggles were around long before Rypien arrived in Los Angeles. This is a years-long problem for the Rams, and it reflects poorly on the front office and coaching staff that they can’t seem to figure out a realistic solution.
Neither John Wolford nor Bryce Perkins were NFL-caliber passers and should not have backed up Jared Goff and Stafford the last few seasons. The Rams thought they solved their backup problem by selecting Stetson Bennett in the fourth round of this spring’s NFL Draft; however, Bennett has been mysteriously absent from the team and unlikely to return this season. Rypien was the team’s third option.
It's always a beautiful sight when #36 on the Packers is a guy from Florida making his first career interception.— Brian Fishbach (@BrianFishbach) November 5, 2023
When @leap36 got his first INT in 1990, he celebrated by adding a second INT in the same game off Rich Gannon and the Vikings in a 24-10 GB victory#GoPackGo pic.twitter.com/g66oaft9cx
Lucas Havrisik, K
LA signed Havrisik off the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad last week. He made both of his combined kick and point after attempts against the Cowboys but split his opportunities on Sunday against the Packers. Sean McVay didn’t display much trust in his kicker when he decided to punt in lieu of a 54-yard field goal attempt at one point with the game still within a single possession.
It’s clear that the Rams still haven’t found their long-term solution at kicker.
I cannot wrap my head around why the Rams opted to get a delay of game and punt -- and still punt after the Packers declined the penalty -- rather than try a 53-yard field goal after Havrisik made a 52 yarder earlier today.— Adam Grosbard (@AdamGrosbard) November 5, 2023
Lucas Havrisik wide right from 49 yards.— Sarah Barshop (@sarahbarshop) November 5, 2023
It's still 7-3 Packers.
Darrell Henderson, RB
While Henderson has been fine over the last two weeks since replacing injured running backs Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers, he showed today why he was available off the street eight weeks into the regular season. Henderson routinely goes down on first contact and creates little beyond what the offensive line opens up for him. Sure, he had some positive contributions in the passing game (two receptions for 16 yards), but the Rams needed to grind out yards on the ground for their backup quarterback. Henderson was unable to do find the difficult yardage and was visible less effective than Royce Freeman.
Henderson rushed 10 times for 19 yards (1.9 average)
Freeman carried the ball 12 times for 32 yards (2.7 average) despite some big losses on tackles in the backfield.
Matthew Stafford’s job security
I already know what the reaction to this section will be. “Even in a game where he didn’t play, you still find a way to put Stafford on the losers list.”
But the truth is Stafford is indirectly playing for his job this season, and he’s done little to secure the starting job in 2024 and beyond. It’s not Stetson Bennett or Brett Rypien that are challenging him for playing time—it’s the potential that the Rams could draft their quarterback of the future and end Stafford’s run in Los Angeles prematurely.
In order to stave off that potential future, Stafford didn’t necessary need to win or lose games. Those outcomes are outside of his control. Instead, he either (1) needed to play well enough that there was no doubt he was the leading man next season with a wealth of salary cap space and with premium draft picks that would play an important part in retooling the roster, or (2) ensure the Rams were good enough in terms of a win-loss record that they’d be out of position to snag a top quarterback early in the 2024 draft.
Stafford has done neither of those so far, and the unfortunate truth is that the longer he sits out with this thumb injury the more likely it becomes that the Rams find a quarterback in the upcoming draft. It’s becoming more and more difficult to imagine Stafford as the team’s starter in 2024 and especially 2025, and that’s something the Rams and Stafford will have to reconcile as this season comes to a close.
Rams fans, watch CJ Stroud play and then tell me having Caleb Williams isn't EXACTLY what we need. Or Drake Maye. Or Penix. I mean, Stroud is that dude. And you only get him high in the draft. We have our 1st rounder, finally, coming up. We need our next generational QB.— Mike Winchell (@mrmikewinch) November 5, 2023
The rams with the 6th pick in the draft. Gotta keep it up. I’m serious. It’s time to get a young QB to start over and grow with this young Rams team— Drone (@kingDrone97) November 5, 2023