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Would Rams consider putting Stafford on ‘load management’ plan?

June 11, 2024 06:08AM
Would Rams consider putting Matthew Stafford on “load management” plan?
Would Rams rest Matthew Stafford now that they have a reliable backup in Jimmy Garoppolo?

[www.turfshowtimes.com]

JB Scott

The Los Angeles Rams have altered course and changed the way they value the backup quarterback position. LA invested this offseason in veteran Jimmy Garoppolo, who had the team’s number during his days with the San Francisco 49ers. It’s a sea change from the days of Bryce Perkins, John Wolford, and Brett Rypien to a capable starter—albeit towards the back of the top 32 of the NFL—in Garoppolo.

Do the Rams view their new backup strictly as insurance in case Matthew Stafford were to miss time in 2024, or is it possible they view Garoppolo as a tool to rest Stafford and keep him performing at a high level into the postseason?

Stafford has battled injuries over his last couple of seasons in Los Angeles. Two years ago he battled multiple potential concussions and a spinal cord contusion that ended his season around the mid-point. In 2023 he suffered a thumb injury that kept him out in a key game against the Green Bay Packers, but initially it was feared that the injury could threaten the remainder of his season.

It’s fair to believe that the Rams want assurances behind Stafford at age 36, especially now that they’ve proven their roster is capable of reaching the playoffs. But is there more to LA’s plan in 2024?

Would Rams consider putting Stafford on “load management” plan?

There are notable reasons why load management has become more popular in other sports such as basketball and baseball. The NBA season is 82 games long, and the MLB season spans 162 games—all excluding the playoffs. In the NFL there are only 17 games and you play once per week. That makes the margin of error in professional football extremely thin. Just one game could be the difference between making the postseason or watching from home on your couch.

There is some merit to the idea that playoff seeding in the NFL has lost importance after the 2020 expansion that allows for seven entrants from each conference. Only a single team from each of the AFC and NFC earn a bye in the wildcard round each year under the new system, so in some sense if you aren’t first you are effectively last. Of course home field advantage matters to an extent, but being on the road is never enough to swing the final outcome in the postseason.

Then there is the paradox that you already have to be a good enough team to rest your quarterback, and your position in the standings is somewhat a product of his high level play. Is the overall roster in a good enough spot to make due for a game or two with a quality backup? Maybe you pick your spots and rest your starter in weeks where he’s especially banged up or when you are playing a team towards the bottom of the standings. Still, there’s no such thing a sure win in the NFL and any team is capable of an upset in any given week.

Load management has a number of challenges in the NFL, though we could see it become more common as the league continues to expand the regular season with a looming 18th game:

1 - There are less games in the NFL relative to other sports

2 - The margin to make the postseason is incredibly thin

3 - You already have to be good and have ability to rest your starter

4 - Players only take the field once per week generally

5 - Quality backup quarterbacks still earn premium salaries

6 - Good teams are mostly good because of high level QB play

7 - What message are you sending to fans and rest of roster?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/11/2024 06:08AM by Rams43.
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