Rams Preseason Week 2 Preview: Bryce Perkins vs John Wolford
Sean McVay has preferred John Wolford as his backup quarterback for the last two seasons. The last time the Rams faced the Texans in the Rams preseason Wolford was under center. He went 8-15 with two touchdowns and 105 yards. That may have been the first time people called for a switch at the Rams’ offensive leader.
When Wolford filled in for Jared Goff in 2020 when he injured his finger, McVay seemed all too eager to make the switch. He saw what an offense could look like with a more mobile quarterback. That happened for a few plays, then Wolford got cracked in the bean and was forced to exit the game. The only other quarterback on the roster was Jared Goff. Goff came in and won the game.
What lessons can we learn from this? A few. Regardless of how good a backup quarterback is, he isn’t good enough to be a starter in the NFL. That is to say, Goff with an injured finger may very well be better than a healthy John Wolford. Another, don’t put the cart before the horse. Or… The Grass isn’t always greener.
Bryce Perkins is now being called to usurp Wolford as the Rams’ backup. And there are some exciting traits that tempt that conclusion. For one, he has wheels. Probably has better wheels than any other Rams quarterback since Bob Waterfield. Perkins impressed during the last Rams preseason and the Rams were obliged to give him a roster spot to protect him from being poached by another team. This season Perkins is off to another good season.
So the Rams will have a very important decision to make regarding one of the 53 roster spots. Wolford or Perkins. But both? The Rams have a roster stocked with wide receivers, running backs, and offensive linemen, and that’s just one side of the ball. Keeping three quarterbacks might be a luxury that the Rams can’t afford.
Do you like Lance McCutcheon? Keeping two backup quarterbacks may be the difference between keeping him and desperately holding on to Perkins and Wolford. How about an oft-injured running back corps? That one extra spot becomes exponentially more important in having three or four backs.
Every team wants to have the smallest margin between their starter and their backup quarterback. A la the Nick Foles Eagles. But in reality, regardless of which backup the Rams keep, the drop-off between Matthew Stafford and either is a massive gorge.
The Rams are not a Super Bowl contender with either as the starter.
So the choice comes down to what they bring to the team on a smaller scale. As much as Perkins may bring to the team, Wolford brings more during practice. His versatility is important as the scout team offense for the first team defense to prepare for the upcoming game.
McVay’s preference for Wolford may be fading. He plans to start Wolford against the Texans. This comes on the back of very conservative personnel decisions in the Chargers games. It’s not unusual that McVay rests his starters in the Rams preseason, but many of the second string was held out. McVay may now have hearts in his eyes for Perkins.
Perkins’ performance against the Chargers was impressive. But it was mitigated. The Rams preseason offense, helmed by coordinator Liam Coen, ran 61 plays. Perkins only dropped back to pass on 41% of those snaps. The 2021 Rams threw the ball on nearly 60% of dropbacks. Perkins’ 58.8 completion percentage was 40th among preseason passers.
Wolford is no Stafford and he certainly doesn’t have Perkins mobility. But Wolford is a much better pocket passer and was far more accurate during training camp.
Rams Preseason Week 2 Preview: Offensive Line
One big factor that affected Perkins’ completion percentage in week one of the Rams preseason was the amount of pressure he faced. He was pressured on 56% of his dropbacks. His 14 pressured dropbacks were good for third-most and his six scrambles were the most in week one according to PFF.
The Rams offensive line was graded a 21.8 by PFF, dead last by a long shot. Worst of the lot was the Rams first overall draft pick Logan Bruss whose performance in Pass-Pro PFF graded with a 7.6. And the rest weren’t much better.
It is hard to imagine that competition still rages for the starting right guard position after that outing.
It also highlights just how much the Rams are riding a razor’s edge with the offensive line. The Rams will roll into the 2022 season on a wing and a prayer that none of the starters will get injured. None of the second-stringers are ready to square off against starting-caliber players.
The Texans are one of the few teams that had a better day pass rushing than the Chargers did last week. They racked up 15 pressures and five sacks against the New Orleans Saints who, despite that, ranked 12th in pass blocking. The Rams will see a familiar face among the pass rushers. The former Ram Ogbonnia Okoronkwo led the Texans in pressures and logged one sack last week.
Rams Preseason Week 2 Preview: Cornerbacks
The most exciting group of young players heading into Rams preseason was the cornerbacks. The Rams added Derion Kendrick and Cobie Durant in the draft and Robert Rochell took multiple steps forward during the offseason. They all played just over 10 snaps and collectively they were targeted six times and gave up two catches. Kendrick, who had a nose for intercepting passes in training camp, nearly picked a pass early in the contest. Had he hauled it in, it likely would have garnered the team six points.
Last week Houston’s backup quarterback, Jeff Driskel, threw three interceptions. The Rams young cornerback trio won’t likely play at all after the first two to three defensive series, but this could be a game where one or more of them shows their shutdown potential during the Rams preseason.