The LA Rams have clinched their berth in the upcoming NFL playoffs. Now the Rams have an important decision to make. Do the LA Rams continue to push the pedal to the metal in pursuit of ending the 2023 regular season with as much success as possible? Or does it make sense for this LA Rams team, 6-1 after their Week 10 BYE, to manufacture their own artificial BYE and rest starters for the Week 18 showdown against the San Francisco 49ers?
In my mind, there is at least one player who should rest this week, and that is venerable quarterback Matthew Stafford.
It's not because Stafford is brittle, too old, or lacks some element of NFL resiliency. Quite the contrary. LA Rams starting quarterback Matthew Stafford is as tough as nails in the pocket, and will stay in on plays after taking a major league wallop. He was injured in Week 8 to the point where he could not start the following game. That was a nadir of the LA Rams 2023 season:
The challenge with resting everyone who starts on the Rams team peels almost all of the competitiveness off the field as well. And with the Rams rookies never having been involved in postseason competition, is it wise to give them an extra week to think about the significance of their first playoff game? I really do not have the answer to that question.
If the Rams sit Matthew Stafford in Week 18, then it makes sense to sit WR Cooper Kupp, who has fought off numerous injuries all season. And if you sit Stafford and Kupp, then Aaron Donald must also be mentioned in the conversation, right?
What would Wentz bring in Week 18?
Is this a chance to see what backup QB Carson Wentz brings to the LA Rams offense? With only two quarterbacks on the Rams roster, the risk of injury makes any decision perilous. But if the Rams intend to make long-standing roster decisions in the offseason, then it behooves the Rams to find out just what Wentz can do for the LA Rams.
I think if they give him a try at QB, they will like what they see.
Carson Wentz is a huge quarterback, standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 237 pounds. He's had 3 offensive snaps in the Rams offense so far, mopping up the Rams 37-14 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 12.
This is Wentz's eighth season in the NFL, While his win-loss record is about .500 when he starts (46 wins, 45 losses, and one tie), he has a fairly accurate arm (62.6 percent completions) and he can hurl the long ball (he has multiple seasons of throwing the football 70+ yards). Despite some challenges with throwing interceptions, he has thrown 151 touchdowns to only 66 interceptions.
What he also adds is a limited ability to run with the football as well. He has rushed 337 times for 1,362 yards and 10 touchdowns. Unfortunately, his ability to protect the football is not a strong suit, as he has 72 fumbles as well.
The Rams may be a one and done playoff team, and that is the reality that we have to face as the Rams enter the postseason near the bottom rung of the pecking order. But keep in mind that the Rams are still aiming at 2024 to be fully back. 2023, by every angle, is about learning how to win the right way.
This is an optimal occasion to decipher whether Carson Wentz is truly a fit in the LA Rams offense, or whether he is simply a recognizable name who really adds very little to the Rams roster. However the question of his fit is answered, the Rams will know what they must do in the offseason to compensate.
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