Few NFL head coaches will ever have to experience the turmoil at quarterback that Sean McVay went through last season, having to insert Baker Mayfield into the position just days after he was claimed on waivers, and the fourth player to start for the L.A. Rams in 2022. But nothing that we saw from Mayfield, John Wolford, or Bryce Perkins was quite as inefficient and ineffective as the Rams played in Week 9’s 20-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers with Brett Rypien under center.
This is not to put all of the blame on Rypien, but facts are facts: The worst offensive EPA that the Rams had in 2022 was -11.56, a Week 4 Monday Night loss to the San Francisco 49ers by a final of 24-9.
The Rams offensive EPA on Sunday against the Packers was -20.49. That’s the lowest EPA for the Rams in any game since 2019, when the team lost 17-12 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10 and posted a -27.02 offensive EPA.
As much as I’m sure Packers fans want to believe that the defense was on point against the Rams, many seem skeptical because the team had to start Brett Rypien at quarterback.
I get praising the defense I really do. But Brett Rypien was the starting quarterback and the lead back was Royce Freeman. https://t.co/SiYs6LS69V— Jerry (@Jaraxsal) November 6, 2023
Rypien finished the game 13-of-28 with 130 passing yards, one interception, two fumbles, one lost fumble, and 19 rushing yards.
Ironically, L.A.’s four worst offensive performances of 2022 all came with Matthew Stafford as the quarterback, including Week 1 against the Bills (-10.29), Week 5 against the Cowboys (-11.11), Week 9 against the Bucs (-10.99), and that game against the 49ers.
For the most part, the offense was usually neutral with Mayfield, Wolford, or Perkins as the starter.
Brett Rypien, a former undrafted free agent out of Boise State who had started three games while with the Denver Broncos for three years, was not the Rams first choice as backup going into training camp. The team had spent a fourth round pick on Stetson Bennett, which has turned out to be one of the only regrettable moves of the Rams 2023 draft class so far. It is not as though fourth round quarterbacks are expected to become starters in the NFL, because that almost never happens, but surprisingly quite a few of the names that went after him have been able to contribute as rookies.
That includes Aidan O’Connell, who the Raiders benched Jimmy Garoppolo for and got the start in a 30-6 win over the Giants on Sunday. Bennett went seven picks ahead of O’Connell.
However, Bennett’s inconsistent preseason performances were followed by a mysterious placement on the Non-Football Injury list, with Sean McVay telling reporters recently that he does not expect him to return to the team in 2023.
The Rams signed Rypien in May and then chose Bennett for the final 53-man roster. When Bennett went on NFI, the team called Rypien up from the practice squad in mid-September and that began his journey as Stafford’s backup.
Then Stafford injured his hand in a 43-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, putting Rypien into the game and he finished 5-of-10 for 42 yards. With a full week of practice as the starter ahead of Sunday’s game against a struggling Packers team, Rypien’s final stats were in some ways worse than the previous week against the Cowboys.
Rypien is now averaging 4.5 yards per pass attempt, 3.85 net yards per pass attempt, 2.73 adjusted net yards per pass attempt, 47.4% completions, and has a passer rating of 49.5.
The lowest adjusted net yards per pass attempt in the NFL right now is Daniel Jones at 2.69, with the next-worst being Bryce Young at 3.60.
The lowest net yards per attempt is 3.91 by Jones, with Young next at 4.16.
The lowest completion percentage is 58.3% by Zach Wilson.
The lowest passer rating is 70.5 by Jones. The lowest Y/A is 5.5 by Young.
While it is true that the Rams did not have Rob Havenstein at right tackle and are cycling through street free agents at running back, L.A.’s offense does still have a full complement of weapons like Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua, Tutu Atwell, and Tyler Higbee.
If the Rams do not bring back Matthew Stafford in Week 11 against the Seattle Seahawks following a bye week, will McVay risk another performance by Rypien like the last one? At 3-6 and falling out of the postseason picture, is that even something that the Rams are concerned about?
There must be some concern about the offense having its worst days since 2019. In 2018, the Rams had an offensive EPA of -21.99 against the Chicago Bears, which is only slightly worse than Sunday. In that loss to the Bears, Jared Goff was intercepted four times.
No games in 2017, 2020, or 2021, were near as bad as how the L.A. Rams performed on offense in Week 9 with Brett Rypien. Will that be something that McVay allows to continue? Do they have any choice?
The Rams have two weeks to answer those questions.