No-risk strategy with Matthew Stafford: Takeaways from Rams’ loss to Seahawks

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford leads his teammates onto the field before a loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford leads his teammates onto the field before a loss to the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 20. Rams coach Sean McVay revealed after the team’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday that Stafford is dealing with a spinal cord bruise.
(Butch Dill / Associated Press)

The Rams lost to the Seattle Seahawks 27-23 on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

Here’s what we learned from the Rams’ sixth consecutive defeat, which dropped their record to 3-9:


The Rams won’t risk playing Matthew Stafford

As seen from the back, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford watches from the sideline.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford watches from the sideline during a loss to the Saints on Nov. 20.
(Tyler Kaufman / Associated Press)


Matthew Stafford is on injured reserve because of a spinal cord contusion and coach Sean McVay has all but declared that the Rams quarterback will be shut down for the season.

So, what’s next for the 34-year-old Stafford?

The 14th-year pro “wants to compete” but “it’s more about having a healthy offseason,” McVay said Monday during a videoconference with reporters.

McVay spoke the day after the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Rams, 27-23, at SoFi Stadium, a sixth consecutive loss that dropped the defending Super Bowl champions’ record to 3-9.

John Wolford, who started at quarterback against the Seahawks, is nursing a neck injury, McVay said. That would appear to put Bryce Perkins on track to start against the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night at SoFi Stadium. However, a determination has not been made, McVay said.

Last season, Stafford led the Rams to victory in Super Bowl LVI. Soon after, he received an injection in his right elbow and did not throw passes during the team’s offseason workouts as he attempted to work through tendinitis.


McVay acknowledged Monday that Stafford’s inability to throw passes and establish “a rapport, a comfort, a rhythm” with veterans and new receivers affected the Rams’ struggling offense this season.

“It definitely had an impact,” McVay said. “Without a doubt.”

Bobby Wagner looked forward to facing his old team, the Seattle Seahawks, and the linebacker had an outstanding game but the Rams lost their sixth in a row.

Dec. 4, 2022

McVay was asked what he would like to see from Stafford going into spring workouts.

“That’s a question to be answered at a later time,” McVay said. “I’m trying to do the best I can in this situation right now and those will be things that definitely need to be addressed and thought through.”

Stafford continues to go through his regular routine, receiver Brandon Powell said.

“He’s got a spinal cord injury where I’m pretty sure that’s painful, but he’s still in there working out, still around us and it’s like, man, it’s like a normal day for him,” said Powell, who also played with Stafford in Detroit. “It’s nothing new to him. He’s a tough dude.

“It’s good that he’s still around, being around us. That’s a good thing to see.”


Michael Hoecht showed versatility

Rams defensive tackle Michael Hoecht sacks Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith.
Rams defensive tackle Michael Hoecht, right, sacks Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith during the first half Sunday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Michael Hoecht signed with the Rams in 2020 as an undrafted free-agent defensive lineman. He played on special teams and as a rotational defensive player until the Rams released outside linebacker Justin Hollins a few weeks ago.


Now defensive coordinator Raheem Morris is playing Hoecht in a hybrid role — and it paid off against the Seahawks.

Hoecht sacked Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith in the second quarter, and then sacked him again in the third, hitting Smith’s arm and knocking the ball across the line of scrimmage. Safety Taylor Rapp recovered the fumble.

“I saw Geno hold the ball out there — and we run so many drills, that’s just kind of second nature to get the arm out there and get the ball out,” Hoecht said. “I thought, seeing the ball that far downfield, that he got the ball off, so I thought I actually got robbed.”


Wolford is tough

Rams quarterback John Wolford is tackled by Seattle Seahawks linebacker Uchenna Nwosu.
Rams quarterback John Wolford, center, is tackled by Seattle Seahawks linebacker Uchenna Nwosu, left, during the Rams’ loss Sunday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Wolford, who has been dealing with a neck issue for several weeks, went into the sideline medical tent in the third quarter after he was hammered for a sack on third down.


Wolford returned the next series, but he went to the sideline for one play after trainers examined him on the field for an ankle injury.

He returned and completed a pass to Van Jefferson to set up a field goal.

“It’s football — you’re not going to feel great all the time,” Wolford said, “but I was able to get through it.”

Wolford completed 14 of 26 passes for 178 yards, with two interceptions.

The bill has come due on the Rams’ Super Bowl win, and it has made for an ugly and challenging season. At least Cam Akers provided a bit a relief Sunday.

Dec. 4, 2022


Jalen Ramsey experienced highs and a low

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett scores a touchdown in front of Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett scores a touchdown in front of Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey on Sunday.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey made several plays but he was not able to stop DK Metcalf from catching the decisive eight-yard touchdown pass.

Metcalf made a difficult catch, but Seahawks receivers in an offense designed by former Rams assistant Shane Waldron spent much of the game taking advantage of the Rams secondary.


Smith completed 28 of 39 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns, with an interception.

Lockett caught nine passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. Metcalf caught eight passes for 127 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Noah Fant also caught a touchdown pass.


Powell’s role is expanding

Rams wide receiver Brandon Powell runs with the ball during the first half Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Powell caught four passes for 39 yards and carried the ball three times for 45 yards on jet sweeps, including one for a 20-yard gain.

After one-and-a-half seasons, receiver Tutu Atwell also is getting more opportunities to show why the Rams drafted him with a second-round pick in 2021.

Atwell caught two passes for 48 yards, including a one-handed grab that he turned into a 30-yard gain. He also carried the ball four times for 23 yards on jet sweeps.


“Just do different routes … and run away from people,” Atwell said. “Little jet sweeps to just mess their head up.”


Cam Akers better with more carries

Rams running back Cam Akers dives for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Running back Cam Akers has said the key to establishing the running game was sticking with it.

Akers, exiled for more than two weeks earlier this season, rushed for 60 yards and two touchdowns in a season-high 17 carries.

The Rams hope to use the remaining games to evaluate rookie Kyren Williams. But if McVay calls on Akers in the same way as he did Sunday, and the third-year pro continues to produce, those opportunities could be limited.