Bobby Wagner had a dominant performance Sunday to keep the short-handed Rams in it until the end, but that didn’t prevent the team from losing its sixth consecutive game, falling 27-23 to the Seattle Seahawks at SoFi Stadium. Here’s what we learned, what we heard and what comes next after Rams coach Sean McVay announced that quarterback Matthew Stafford is likely out for the season with a spinal cord contusion:
McVay said Monday morning that Stafford’s neck injury won’t affect him for next season and anticipates a healthy offseason for his star quarterback.
Stafford was recently placed on injured reserve after clearing the concussion protocol last week, but McVay said the move was more about keeping him healthy for the rest of the season.
“That’s kinda where we left those conversations to give him the clarity of what we felt like was best,” McVay said after declining to provide a timetable for Stafford’s recovery. “That was what the doctors felt like was best. Whenever that ends up being where he is fully medically clear, there’s a loose timetable on that. It’s more about having a healthy offseason, but we have constant dialogue.
“I think in these types of situations, I think the most appropriate perspective, at least for me, is just to take it a day at a time and try to be the best that I can be for these players, for these coaches in the midst of a real challenging season that we’re battling through right now.”
Stafford, 34, took several hits on the field behind a poor offensive line this season and suffered a concussion in Week 9 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He returned to the concussion protocol after feeling numbness in his legs due to a sack he took in Week 11 against the New Orleans Saints. That led to Stafford being diagnosed with the spinal cord contusion, sidelining him for the rest of the season.
The Rams want to ensure Stafford is healthy for the start of the offseason program, something he didn’t participate in this past spring because he had an elbow procedure in his throwing arm after guiding the Rams to a Super Bowl title. Stafford didn’t start throwing until training camp, which might have affected his chemistry on the field with the new players, including wide receiver Allen Robinson.
“I definitely think it had an impact because you talk about rapport, establishing a rapport, a rhythm, a comfort not only with, everybody wants to talk about he and (WR) Cooper (Kupp), but even just some of the newer pieces,” McVay said about Stafford missing the offseason program. “Yeah, otherwise I’d say, ‘Why the hell do we practice?’ I think it definitely had an impact without a doubt.”
WHO WILL PLAY QB THURSDAY?
McVay said quarterback John Wolford, who started against the Seahawks, will be day-to-day in practice this week because of neck soreness.
With a short week, the Rams might have to turn to Bryce Perkins to start against the Las Vegas Raiders for “Thursday Night Football.” Perkins started in Week 12 against the Kansas City Chiefs, but the mobile quarterback struggled in the passing game.
“I think you have to have the mindset for both guys,” McVay said. “With the short week, you’re naturally trimmed, you’re limited with your practice opportunities. So, really we’ll get into this film, we’ll figure out what we think is going to be the best way to try to put together a game plan in all three phases. But to say you wouldn’t need to have both of those guys ready to go, that is definitely something that we have to keep in mind.”
As for other injuries, McVay doesn’t expect cornerback David Long to be available Thursday because he sustained a groin injury against the Seahawks. Wide receiver Ben Skowronek injured his shoulder Sunday, but McVay expressed optimism about him playing against the Raiders.
The Raiders will enter SoFi Stadium on Thursday with a three-game winning streak, including a victory against the Chargers on Sunday.
McVay praised the Raiders for having a stout pass-rushing duo with Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby and highlighted Raiders coach Josh McDaniels and his surging offense.
“I think (quarterback) Derek Carr is an excellent player,” McVay said. “(Running back) Josh Jacobs has been outstanding and (wide receiver) Davante (Adams) is as good as it gets. “So, the offense has really been firing through those three over the last handful of weeks. They’ve gotten a lot of different guys involved.”