If everything goes according to plan for the Los Angeles Rams, backup quarterbacks John Wolford and Bryce Perkins would never see the field during the regular season or playoffs.
Even though Matthew Stafford battled through injuries during the 2021 season he did not miss any time as a result. Wolford took offensive snaps in three games, but this playing time came in blowout victories over the New York Giants, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville Jaguars.
While the Rams were incredibly successful against these teams, Wolford was not – and his performance in this limited action should be cause for concern moving forward.
When backup quarterbacks come in during blowout victories the play calling is typically hyper-conservative and run-heavy; however, Wolford managed to throw an interception against the Giants on only two attempts – his only completion was to the other team.
It didn’t get better for the backup quarterback against the Texans – Wolford dropped back three times resulting in an 8-yard sack, a 5-yard completion, and turnover-worthy pass that fell incomplete.
In the only regular season start of his career, the Rams defense scored more touchdowns (1) than Wolford’s offense. He finished that game with a completion percentage of 58% and an interception.
If John Wolford doesn’t miss this pass early on, Robert Woods might house it. The only defender left to beat was Shaq Griffin who was guarding Cooper Kupp deep. pic.twitter.com/U0YOUqYQNm
—Sosa Kremenjas (@QBsMVP) January 10, 2021
With Wolford sitting out of the 2021 preseason – he was recovering from appendicitis but also the Rams typically rest key players – it’s difficult to know where his develop currently sits. Has Wolford been better behind the scenes, earning the confidence of the coaching staff? Or is backup quarterback a ticking time bomb for a team that hopes to compete for a championship again in 2022?
The only realistic alternative this season is Bryce Perkins, who is far from a lock to make the team’s final roster.
While Perkins’ athleticism was impressive during the three exhibition games, he did not flash the ability to push the ball downfield on a consistent basis – and this is an extremely important element of LA’s passing attack.
It’s possible that the mobility of Perkins gives him a lower ceiling should the Rams need to replace Stafford in the short-term, though Wolford is a better fit from a traditional drop back perspective.
So what should have been the answer for the Rams behind Stafford – and what should the plan be moving forward?
Did the team need to acquire someone like Chase Daniel, Marcus Mariota, or Andy Dalton? Probably not.
But the Rams could have nabbed Trevor Siemian or Kyle Allen for around $2-2.5M per year. They could have selected a quarterback in the draft for the first time under head coach Sean McVay – and anyone drafted in theory would have offered more upside than the undrafted Wolford and Perkins.
Take Kansas State’s Skylar Thompson for example – drafted in the seventh round by the Miami Dolphins who had already signed Teddy Bridgewater in free agency. After drafting Thompson the Dolphins released Chris Streveler, who had previously served as the backup to Kyler Murray with the Arizona Cardinals. Thompson went later in the draft because he is already 24 years old. While he has all the traits you’d like to see in a big, strong-armed developmental quarterback, he was oft-injured at Kansas State.
This is just one way the Rams could have elevated their quarterback room, but instead they chose to stand pat.
After battling nagging injuries in 2021, Stafford isn’t throwing in OTA’s due to an injection in his throwing arm. He’s 34.
While no one wants to see him injured and miss time, 2-3 bad games from either Wolford or Perkins could be enough to prevent the team from making the playoffs. A backup quarterback isn’t going to take you to the Super Bowl if your starter misses the playoffs, but they can keep you on track long enough to earn you a spot in the tournament.
Hopefully we aren’t left reflecting on what could have been with the 2022 Rams team after an injury to their star signal caller. Los Angeles could regret their lack of investment in the backup quarterback position.