The Los Angeles Rams will be starting third-year QB Bryce Perkins today. The former undrafted free agent was forced to step in during the team's loss to the New Orleans Saints last week because Matthew Stafford appeared to suffer another concussion and No. 2 quarterback John Wolford was dealing with injuries of his own. The defeat dropped the Rams to 3-7 and the playoffs feel like an extremely long shot at this point, even with how weak the NFC is this year.
There have been rumors that the Rams might shut Stafford down for the year. They should do it. Not because it would take a lengthy win streak and a lot of luck to even squeak into the postseason, much less make a run. But because the details of what Stafford is dealing with has emerged and it is... not good.
Insider reports this morning explained Stafford was placed into concussion protocol, yet there was no evidence he actually had a concussion. So he's not being held out this Sunday because of that. Instead, the Rams are being extra-cautious because Stafford apparently felt numbness in his legs after a hit last week. Per NFL Network:
While Stafford is in the league's protocol, he has not been diagnosed with a concussion, sources with knowledge of his situation say. In fact, he was placed in the protocol because he exited game before the team could determine if he had a concussion.
The Rams couldn't rule out a concussion during the game because it could have been his head, neck or back that was causing the symptoms. So, they played it safe by pulling him and putting him in concussion protocol.
Stafford was experiencing leg numbness as a result of what was essentially a bad stinger when his neck was hit last week. But that has since cleared up over the past few days, sources say.
Ian Rapoport's reporting above goes against what Adam Schefter reported one hour earlier, which is that the Rams were unsure if Stafford would return this year. So it doesn't seem like intentionally shutting him down is in the cards but they don't know if he'll be able to play again this season.
They should still shut him down. Getting hit so hard his legs went numb is scary as hell. Even if it was "just" a stinger. And what are the Rams gaining by putting him back there behind a patchwork offensive line that has been devastated by injuries all year? Defenses are teeing off on Stafford in the backfield, all for the Rams to lose games.
Los Angeles can't tank for the year because they owe their first-round pick to the Detroit Lions, which is probably why Stafford hasn't been shut down already. But letting the 34-year-old take this kind of punishment to go .500 and miss the playoffs by two games isn't worth it. The Rams got what they wanted by trading those picks-- a Super Bowl title. That will never be taken away from them. Losing this season sucks but they're one loss away from it being a lost cause anyway.
Stafford still has a few good years in him. His arm strength hasn't declined. The Rams need to look forward to the future, shut down their franchise QB, and take their lumps instead of forcing Stafford to take more.