Can the LA Rams count on 17 games from QB Matthew Stafford?

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

Durability. The LA Rams had very little durability during the 2022 NFL season. And that, perhaps more than any other factor, was the reason behind falling to a record of 5-12. So that has to be addressed this offseason. But it won’t be easy.

There are two ways to mitigate risk. The first is the more obvious: avoid the risk completely. If the LA Rams have a choice over who to start on the offensive line between two evenly-matched players, then the answer is to start the one who has a track record of suiting up for games. But sometimes, it’s just not that easy.

The Rams are not going to sit veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford for a lesser quarterback who does not get injured.  And the reality is, if the LA Rams win games in 2023, the LA Rams will continue to stack up plenty of postseason play on top of a 17-game regular season. That means more than 26 weeks of intensive training, practice, and live competition. Stafford does not handle that length of grueling competition well, we’ve discovered.

The LA Rams must plan better

Teams that fail to make the playoffs get an additional five weeks to repair, rehab, recover, and rest. Before he arrived at the LA Rams and won four straight postseason games, veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford was one of those players who began his offseason early. And he will get his chance to rest, rehab, and recover this offseason. But the Rams will need to do a better job of load management if the goal is to win consistently.

The Rams had to notice that their rivals, the San Francisco 49ers, were decimated in the NFC Championship Game because they rifled through four quarterbacks in one season. Four NFL quarterbacks were injured on that team in 20 games.

The Rams got lucky in a sense in their Super Bowl run. For many years, the Rams have banked on suiting up their starting quarterback in each and every game.  I don’t think that model of roster-building holds true now.

Just check out the Rams 2022 press conference after their training camp:

The Rams entered the 2022 NFL season knowing that starting quarterback Matthew Stafford was still experiencing soreness. The Rams must do better. This team should not focus as much on load management for a starting quarterback with arm soreness, as much as preventing Stafford from getting to that point.

That has to evolve into a keener view of the team’s strategy of staffing the quarterback position. More arms in training camp? Adding a new quarterback each season with a chance to develop? The Rams won a huge gamble in the 2021 NFL season. But if 2022 had a lesson to learn, it’s that the Rams have to plan their roster composition a bit better for the 2023 NFL season.

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