The NFL’s lone Week 17 game in which either participant will make the playoffs with a win might also not include either team’s starting quarterback.
The status of Arizona signal-caller Kyler Murray remains unknown, and Los Angeles certainly won’t have its No. 1 guy under center after Jared Goff underwent thumb surgery Monday. Enter John Wolford, a quarterback who hasn’t registered a single regular-season statistic in his two NFL seasons but will be relied upon to carry the Rams to a playoff berth-clinching win over the Cardinals in Week 17.
“John Wolford will step up,” Rams coach Sean McVay said Monday. “John’s done a great job preparing himself all year. If you watch the way that he’s worked at it, I know there’s confidence from coaches and from his teammates and guys will need to rally around him. But we’re excited about the opportunity that John will have to lead the offense this week.”
Wolford made his way to the Rams via the short-lived Alliance of American Football, where he began his time in that league with a 275-yard, four-touchdown night as quarterback of the Arizona Hotshots.
The 6-foot-1 quarterback delivers quickly and decisively, and though this will be tested at NFL speed, he seemed to be comfortable at his pace within the Hotshots offense in the short amount of time afforded him before the AAF abruptly folded. It sounds as if those qualities have carried over to the Rams, giving McVay reason to be encouraged.
“The confidence in John,” McVay said when asked why the Rams didn’t add a veteran quarterback prior to the start of the 2020 season. “What he had shown with the opportunities — whether it be preseason, competitive reps in practice, all the stuff that you’re just evaluating every single thing that he does. We felt good about that. So, really it was a reflection of the confidence in John. Looking forward to the opportunity that he’ll have this weekend.”
If Wolford is able to lead the Rams to a playoff berth, it would instantly become one of the league’s best stories in an unusual season. The bar isn’t outrageously high right now for the Rams, either, as Goff had struggled significantly even before suffering the thumb injury, posting a 60.8 completion percentage, a 3-3 TD-INT ratio and a passer rating of 74 over his last three games.
Once a promising signal-caller for a pro football team in Arizona, Wolford will welcome the NFL team hailing from the Copper State to southern California, where he’ll look to make his mark. We’ll see if that includes a trip to the postseason.
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