Just two days after announcing that safety Jordan Fuller is out for the season with an ankle injury that might need surgery, the Los Angeles Rams sign veteran safety Eric Weddle according to his agent, David Canter. Weddle unretires to join the Rams practice squad. The hope is to get on the field in time to play Monday night versus the Arizona Cardinals. It’s an odd move, for sure. Judging by initial reactions from the fan base, a questionable one. It’s also an interesting move best looked at sideways.
Return of Eric Weddle Means More Than Depth for the Los Angeles Rams
Weddle retired two years ago next month and is now 37 years of age after his January 4th birthday so there’s a growing concern heading into NFL Wild Card weekend. The highly respected Fontana-born California native is a 6-time pro bowler and 2-time NFL All-Pro. And while this looks like a reach, it might just be the best move the Rams could make.
The Rams are not only short on personnel but on veteran-savvy leadership. Let’s face it. As good as Jalen Ramsey is, he could easily be lumped in with the Kobe Bryants and Michael Jordans of the world in the leadership department of late. Meaning, younger players may find their teaching skills lack patience and connectivity. Not saying this is necessarily true. Yet in calling something that quacks a duck, Taylor Rapp didn’t seem to appreciate the on-field head-swipe incident. At times since, he’s been playing like he now feels way too much pressure to be perfect.
It’s now postseason. This is no time for the team to unravel. Opponents can smell your fear and will feed off your confusion. Weddle brings confidence even Ramsey responds to. Why wouldn’t the younger and less experienced defensive backs? Schematically, he likely holds more knowledge up top than any other player on the field come game time. This can only be a plus for the Rams secondary as a whole. Yes, it can be an embarrassment for him if he’s not prepared physically but he’s reportedly been playing competitive 5-on-5 basketball and is in good shape. The Rams have Thursday, when they return to practice, through the weekend to determine if he’s a go or not. Nothing’s guaranteed and again, it’s been two years since he’s been on a football field.
Sometimes Intelligence Loves Company, Too
For the record, you were warned this would go sideways.
Fans aren’t always told everything and with good reason. Even coaches can’t know everything at the time of acquisitions. Regarding Weddle, one thing everyone knows and agrees on is the fact that he is one of the smartest players to ever pass through the NFL. When all is said and done, NFL history is likely to reflect that Sean McVay was also one of the brightest minds to have graced the sport.
That being said, in moments leading up to putting this piece together, you realize two things. The first being, both McVay and Les Snead think highly of Weddle as a player and a person. Secondly, McVay gets a great deal of motivation from not always being the smartest person in the room. He likes learning from smarter people. He also loves a good challenge by them later.
And so, a past press conference comes to mind in which McVay was asked about Weddle’s unwillingness to disclose all of the secrets of his former team, the Baltimore Ravens. The Rams were just days away from facing them. McVay expressed the utmost respect for Weddle sticking to his decision to remain loyal to his past relationships with former teammates. Despite what we’re told or not told with unretiring of Weddle, he returns to Los Angeles, in part, for his knowledge and experience. Looking beyond that while reading tea leaves from somewhere in another galaxy, we could be witnessing the birth of a bright new coaching mind.
The Truth is Plenty for Now
Just spitballing above, of course, so take from it what you may. But at the very least, McVay’s possibly picking up the caginess of someone he admires a great deal, Bill Belichick. What isn’t speculation is as follows:
Fuller, Rams signal-caller, and leading tackler is lost for the season with an ankle injury.
Everyone in the secondary not named Fuller or Ramsey has looked confused at times in coverages and has struggled at tackling.
Grumblings among the fan base expressing displeasure in defensive coordinator Raheem Morris are gradually turning to shouts.
If Weddle’s presence plays the slightest part in an NFC Wild Card weekend victory for the Rams, concerns of these shortcomings and more magically go away for at least one more week.
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