Heading into Week 9, the LA Rams are 3-5, just as was the case in 2022. The LA Rams faced a significant scare in Week 8, a battered throwing hand for veteran QB Matthew Stafford left the Rams with the likely scenario of no Stafford this week, and perhaps not for the foreseeable future. But mounting evidence on Wednesday proved to trend in a positive direction. As a result, the Rams are unlikely to place Stafford on IR. But his status for Week 9 remains day to day, and whether or not he plays is now a game-time decision.
But lest we get all giddy and euphoric, let's pause and come to grips with the fact that the LA Rams are not out of the woods just yet. After all, even if Stafford believes that he can suit up and play in Week 9, should he?
While the chances of numbing cold have abated, the weather in Green Bay, Wisconsin remains cool with a daytime high forecast to be 51 degrees, but with winds gusting up to 10 miles per hour, and chance of rain rising through 25 percent. Not bad football weather, unless your thumb is throbbing and you are trying to grip a leather football.
A fork in the road
Some may see Week 9 as a must win game, a game where the LA Rams need to pull out all of the stops. Until now, that has been the LA Rams way, the willingness to pass 50 times into the teeth of the NFL's best pass defense. But could Week 9 be an opportunity to adapt to a new strategy?
When the LA Rams faced the New England Patriots in Week 14 of the 2020 NFL season, the LA Rams could only muster 137 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception through the air. Yet the Rams won that game by a score of 24-3. In the contest, the Rams rushed 36 times for 186 yards and a touchdown. It was a game that seemed to place the NFL on notice that Rams RB Cam Akers had arrived.
It was a team victory, but it was dependant upon the fact that the Rams did not follow their own incredibly predictable script. They ran and then ran some more. In the process, the Rams did not need quarterback Jared Goff to play flawless football. They just needed him to make some throws, and let the Rams ground attack and defense do the rest.
If the Rams can keep Stafford healthy through the BYE week, there is a chance to get a few more games out of him this season. The more games Stafford plays, the better the chances for the Rams to win games. But the Rams have to check themselves now and stop throwing all caution to the wind.
The Rams have come to a moment of truth. Playing fundamentally sound football requires more than players making the plays. In many regards, it requires the coaching staff to give those players the right plays and personnel packages to succeed. That is a seldom-used strategy for the LA Rams, but it's not unheard of. Just ask New England Patriots HC Bill Belichick. The LA Rams can run when then want to.
In Week 9, I really don't see that they have any other choice.