The Rams are less than four days away from playing a huge postseason game against their division rivals, and they don’t yet know who their starting quarterback will be. Or at least, that’s the way Sean McVay is making it seem.
After initially saying Jared Goff would “probably” be available for the playoffs, McVay isn’t so sure about his quarterback’s status. John Wolford showed he’s more than capable of starting in place of Goff, but he hasn’t played in big games the way No. 16 has.
During his media session on Tuesday, McVay refused to name a starter for Saturday’s game against the Seahawks, and he made it clear that he doesn’t plan to announce his decision before 1:39 p.m. PT – one minute prior to kickoff.
“We’re taking it a day at a time. Jared is our starting quarterback,” McVay said. “The reality is that he had thumb surgery. We’re monitoring that every single day and that’s something that we’re taking a day at a time, but the anticipation is both those guys are getting themselves ready to go.”
He’s making the right call by keeping the Rams’ starting quarterback under wraps.
McVay has no reason to name a starter right now, or at any moment before the game begins. It’s not much of a competitive advantage, but there is a benefit to keeping the Seahawks guessing. Goff is a traditional pocket passer with limited mobility. Wolford is a quick and elusive quarterback who can pick up big yardage on the ground, be it with designed runs, read-options or scrambling when a play breaks down.
We’re not talking a Peyton Manning-Lamar Jackson difference in mobility here, but Goff and Wolford do have different playing styles. By not revealing a starter, McVay is forcing the Seahawks to prepare for both.
Pete Carroll said “there really isn’t” a different approach required with not knowing who the Rams’ starter will be, but of course he’s not going to admit it’s a challenge preparing for both.
“Well, I don’t know that it’s different. I think it looks like the same offense to me,” Carroll said. “With just playing, they’ve run all of the same plays. He did a nice job of keeping the ball on some reads and all that, so I don’t think it was much different. I thought it was very much the same. Strong armed guy and moved around, got out of the pocket, did some nice things. They certainly used him on the edge just like they’ve done consistently over the years. So, I didn’t see that much change.”
Wolford seemed to play with a more aggressive mindset than Goff has this season, throwing downfield often and making plays with his legs after avoiding sacks. But McVay said the playbook didn’t necessarily expand to add more read-options or deep shots for Wolford.
The only added plays were the designed quarterback runs, one of which Wolford picked up 13 yards and a first down on.
“I thought John did a nice job. I would really say the only difference was some of those designed runs. A lot of those coverage contours, I thought John saw the field really well,” he said.
Oftentimes, it’s said that if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one. For the Rams, having two capable starters is a benefit. It can’t even be ruled out that they’ll play both Wolford and Goff in the game, according to McVay.
“I wouldn’t rule out anything at this point,” he said. “We’re working through a lot of things in a short amount of time. This year has definitely been a different one, to say the least, but this is another one of those situations where you just have to be able to navigate it the right way and I certainly would not rule that out.”
Perhaps McVay’s most interesting comment came when he was asked who would start if both quarterbacks were equally healthy. He didn’t have an answer, which suggests Wolford played well enough in Week 17 to at least make McVay think about who the better option is under center.
He could’ve easily said Goff would be the starter if he were to be 100% healthy, but he wisely dodged the question by clarifying Goff won’t be full strength for Saturday.
“That’s creating a hypothetical that doesn’t exist right now. He just had thumb surgery. They’re not going to be equally healthy. So, we’ll see what that looks like. We’re going to take it a day at a time and just for your guys’ edification, I’m not going to make an announcement on who’s starting and who’s not. So, I’m not going to answer that question this week.”