The LA Rams like to play the odds. It’s the gambler’s creed. Take a chance. Place a wager. Roll the dice. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose. But whenever the team has a near miss, this organization chalks it down to a learning experience and does whatever is necessary to correct the problem systemically so that it does not happen again. That creates a self-improving decision tree, a process where the team learns which edges can be approached, and which edges need a safe distance.
Those same LA Rams exhibited that ability to self-correct after a near-miss scare over starting quarterback Matthew Stafford’s thumb. It was a freak accident that sometimes happens. Stafford made a pass, and his follow-through brought his hand down on a defender’s helmet. While a similar injury shattered Jared Goff’s hand against the Seattle Seahawks last year, the Rams were far luckier this time. Stafford merely bruised his hand.
A near miss. Too close to the edge. That’s enough to prompt the Rams to act and they did. The team decided to deploy the Guardian cap safety devices on players’ helmets through training camp to prevent those types of injuries to the quarterbacks’ hands. Problem identified. Problem addressed.
Yet here we are, days away from the team’s first preseason game, and the team is going with second-year quarterback Bryce Perkins and “Duck” Devlin Hodges as the only two healthy quarterbacks heading into the preseason games. Today, the LA Rams’ primary backup quarterback John Wolford had an emergency appendectomy and will be out for two weeks.
Based on the timing of John Wolford’s injury, he could conceivably miss all three preseason games. That has taken the mild buzzing of “the Rams really should do something about the backup quarterback situation’ in my ear up to a red and swollen site of a bee sting now.
This is not a new situation for the LA Rams, as it has been the status for over a year. The Rams needed to add reinforcements to the backup quarterback role months ago. Just four days ago, we’d lobbied for the Rams to consider adding additional talent to the quarterback room, and nothing. We’ll probably mention adding quarterback talent again until the Rams have corrected the danger systemically.
So what’s ahead for Wolford? Per the Kaiser Permanente website, a return to normal (around the house type of action) will take two weeks. For Wolford to resume football-level activities, that return could be longer. Even the minor invasive laparoscopy surgery involves going in and removing the troublesome appendix. That weakens the abdominal muscles and requires time for everything to heal up. Wolford, as a quarterback, relies heavily upon his abdominal core muscles to make his throws.
Offensive coordinator Kevin O’ Connell, who also works very closely with the team’s quarterbacks, shared this about the Rams quarterback scenario:
"“John obviously caught us a little bit off guard with that news, but we want to get him all fixed up and ready to go as soon as possible. But it will give Bryce (Perkins) and Duck (Devlin Hodges) a great opportunity just like they had today. Short notice, ‘Hey, you’re going with the twos,’ because you guys know how it is, we don’t slow down.” – Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, who also coaches the team’s quarterbacks, said after Friday’s practice, per therams.com staff writer Stu Jackson"
Wolford’s absence will indeed create opportunities for the remaining two quarterbacks on the roster. But it also puts on full display just how thin the margin of error is at the quarterback position right now. As long as Stafford is upright, and yes, he is one tough sonofagun, the LA Rams are in good shape.
That isn’t really the Rams way, though. This near-miss should prove to the Rams that there is the potential for a crippling event this season. Typically, the Rams act quickly to eliminate that level of risk. Will they this time? Stay tuned…