The interesting notion of Los Angeles Rams back-up quarterback John Wolford replacing Jared Goff and getting some badly needed in-game reps with the starters has come up a time or two this season (for whatever reason). Well, if that’s going to happen, there will be no better time than Week 15.
The Rams figure to handle the winless New York Jets with a modicum of challenges so the opportunity to rest Goff’s mind and body should be taken advantage of. Not only is postseason play very possibly around the corner but unlike 2019, Goff has not had a breather through the first thirteen games. In fact, Wolford not seeing the field at all — all things going as expected — may begin to look rather suspicious. But first, let’s focus on why Rams fans should prepare for at least a taste of a pleasant change of pace.
Rams vs Jets: Perfect Time for a John Wolford Sighting
Let’s face it. It’s the New York Jets. The 2020 OMG-and-13 New York Jets. Last or near last in almost every category from offensive scoring to points allowed to antacid products left on local shelves every Monday.
Furthermore, with their postseason hopes just dust in the wind and a valuable off-season commodity named Trevor Lawrence on the horizon, will anyone not actually on the field for the Jets Sunday have their heart set on winning?
And then there’s this slow-burning rumor (so far, remaining under the NFL radar) that a certain someone in Foxborough, Massachusetts may be setting up the Jets to beat the local pro team there Week 17 via benching its starting quarterback for its back-up. The reason being, if the Jets win any game, they stand to lose the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Long story short, Mr. Lawrence doesn’t land in the AFC East to possibly embarrass anyone in Massachusetts twice a year, annually.
It’s certainly a stretch to believe (yet so New England) but true or not, the Rams don’t need additional arrows pointing towards reasons they halt any hopes of Jets flying high Week 15. They need only to play their game at their current level of consistency. They do that and Goff gets a much-needed rest.
Jared Goff’s Rest Stops in the McVay Era
2019: Goff took less than 100% of the snaps three times. Two were Rams blowouts (Game Seven, 95%: 37-10 vs Atlanta Falcons, 12th game, 91%: 34-7 vs Arizona Cardinals). The third was a mere Johnny Hekker interception in a 12-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jared played every offensive snap the last four weeks. Of course, Blake Bortles was the primary back-up and did clean-up duties.
2018: Goff took less than 100% of the snaps three times. First, a blowout (Game Seven, 84%: 39-10 vs San Francisco 49ers). The last two were Weeks 16 and 17 while sweeping the Cardinals and 49ers, 31-9 and 42-32 respectively. Then back-up Sean Mannion took up the slack that year.
2017: In the first regular-season game of the Sean McVay era, Goff took 92% of the snaps of that impressive victory. He took less than 100% of the snaps in three other games for a total of four. All four were blowouts, next being a seventh game (yes, again) 33-0 shutout vs Arizona taking 95%. The following week he took just 80% of the snaps in a 51-17 thrashing of the New York Giants. In Week 15, Goff had his lowest snap percentage of the last four seasons at 79% during a 42-7 dismantling of the Seahawks.
Looking at the above information in print and then at their schedule and results so far this season, it would be irresponsible to assume anything other than game difficulty and uncertainty as to why McVay has not seen fit to rest his go-to quarterback at any point. The Rams are definitely not blowing opponents away despite a few very impressive victories. This week, however, they are expected to.
Why It Might Look Suspicious if Goff Doesn’t Sit Out a Romp
If you’re a Rams fan, you probably already heard that Sean McVay is forced to play Jared Goff because they paid him all that money already. If not that then John Wolford is just that bad and the Rams are afraid to play him. Or perhaps, maybe Wolford is that good and the powers that be don’t want the controversy and added pressure from exposing such certainty to social media causing Goff distractions.
While that third and last bit of reasoning is closer to being reasonably believable, the Rams offense has, above all else, looked less than finely-tuned like that of the 2018 V8 that’s spoiled us. Week 14’s domination of Bill Belichick‘s latest reinvention of the cocktail still produced a mild 24-point output. Nothing to yank Jared away from. And one can argue, that was their most impressive victory in this vastly-strained year of playing it by ear.
It’s as simple as the Rams have not realistically had the blow-out victories some Rams fans need to see to stay committed to Goff through his costly errors. The consensus is that if Goff’s not well-protected, he’s not pretty to watch. In fairness to these fans, the NFL has been evolving for over a decade. The league is trending towards dual-threat types capable of doing so much more to extend plays with defensive athletes becoming stronger and faster. The Rams have two such talents behind Goff in Wolford and practice squad Russell Wilson/Kyler Murray simulator Bryce Perkins. We know they lack Goff’s arm and accuracy. We just want a taste of that wild life.
— Mob Times (@GridDawgs247) December 18, 2020
Last Word on John Wolford
The game itself should be rewarding if you’re pulling for Los Angeles. The previous week of football included the first true blowout win for Seattle Seahawks facing these same Jets. The Jets were 13.5-point underdogs and lost, 40-3. Back-up quarterback Geno Smith made a rare appearance playing the 4th quarter (25% of snaps). He went four-for-five (a career-best 80% completion rate) for 33 yards for the Seahawks. It was Russell Wilson’s first early exit this season.
Meanwhile, Jets starter Sam Darnold went 15/26, 132 yards, with no interceptions or touchdowns while being sacked three times. His passes caught averaged 5.1 yards in an obvious need-to-pass situation. For his troubles, he now gets the honor of possible decapitation facing the Most Disruptive Player the league has ever seen.
Rams-Jets opened in Las Vegas at 13.5 favoring the Rams but it vaulted to 17.5 by Friday, two mornings before kick-off. The oddsmakers obviously don’t trust Jared Goff or think the Rams ground game will overly eat at the clock. But Russell Wilson threw four touchdowns passes on the Jets secondary last week because he could.
I say the Rams get out in front of the Jets and never look back. Goff is replaced to get protection (in part, from himself) and John Wolford brings his digital crowd to its feet. The Seahawks-Rams game saw just one turnover, a pick of Russell Wilson. My gut says the Rams will take this category Sunday. Week 15 Prediction: Rams win in a shutout, 34-0.
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