No matter the down or the distance, quarterback John Wolford has always found a way to keep moving the chains. A year after playing a pivotal role in the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl-winning season, Wolford is now lining up for his final two-minute drill – signing with an NFL team in time for training camp. .
As he has done throughout his three-year college and pro career, Wolford continues to work to not only become a top QB, but a valuable offensive asset as well. He again hopes that the results of constant grinding will not only catch the attention of NFL general managers, but will also serve as a model work ethic for young quarterbacks.
Wolford used every possible environment – from the field to the movie theater to the weight room, the sauna and even in his car in the middle of a rush hour in Los Angeles – as a learning base in order to improving his playing repertoire, which saw him start three games last season for the Rams. As well as an NFL-caliber arm, Wolford brought game management ability to be able to adapt and adapt to any situation – it’s what helped drive his football journey forward in Russian mountains. And at just 27, a perfectly healthy John Wolford is working to make sure it doesn’t end anytime soon.
“I feel good. It’s the best I’ve felt in my career in terms of the way I throw the ball,” said Wolford, who says he’s fully recovered from injury. to the neck that harassed him towards the end of last season.” You can kind of see the results. I’m finally really starting to understand my body in my career where I’m going the ball from right now. I feel better and I’m really looking forward to finishing somewhere and continuing to work.
So far, John Wolford’s road to the NFL has gone from being a starting quarterback with four years in college to being drafted as a rookie in 2018. Wolford even took a job in finance before moving on. being signed – then quickly cut – by the New York Jets. He rebounded landing in the short-lived AAF, earning Player of the Week honors twice with the Arizona Hotshots before the startup folded just eight games in its inaugural season.
However, the Los Angeles Rams saw enough skill from Wolford in that brief season to sign him in 2020 to back up then-starter Jared Goff. He made history on his first start, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 200 yards and run for 50 more in his first ever career start – leading the Rams to a playoff berth in the season finale. A year later, John Wolford, as Matthew Stafford’s backup, won his Super Bowl ring when the Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20 in Super Bowl LVI.
Now, after a 2022 season in which he started three games for the injured Stafford, John Wolford finds himself again forced to prove himself as the Rams decide not to extend a qualifying offer to the QB or a bidding, making him an unrestricted free agent, and on the open market. He might linger, but Wolford keeps working. He feels sharper, healthier and ready for his next opportunity.
“If I looked at myself in high school, in college, in the NFL, I feel different from year to year,” Wolford says. “I think I’ve made progress year on year – I’m throwing it much better than I was just two years ago.”
John Wolford pulls out all the stops to get back on the pitch
If you have looked at his social networks, you’ll see him throw the ball deep like he did as a four-year-old starter at Wake Forest, where he led the Demon Deacons to two bowl appearances. His senior season, he threw for over 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns. His most notable win was after throwing for 461 yards and six TDs (including one rushing) in beating Heisman Trophy winner (and future NFL MVP) Lamar Jackson and Louisville.
To replicate those high-level efforts, John Wolford used this offseason program to elevate his QB mechanics. Throughout his six-day split routine, Wolford alternates four days of weight lifting with a pair of field work – including sprints – used to build his aerobic capacity while re-accustoming his body to lots of volume work, which will decrease the closer he gets to a potential training camp.
However, under the supervision of the famous sports performance coach Tom Gormely, Wolford’s biggest priorities this offseason have been dialing in his throwing mechanics, from the ground up. The two dove deep into perfecting mechanics – drilling on all footwork and foot placement, hip work, even working on throwing mechanics to reduce ball spin. To accomplish this, Wolford incorporated many plyometric and isometric activities into his workouts, including using weighted ball throws. So far, Wolford is seeing results.
“It basically makes me a more effective pitcher,” he says. “The arm is stronger, I have more accuracy and hopefully that will lead to less arm fatigue as the season progresses. So all of that translates into becoming a better quarterback.
Apart from the consistency of the training program, John Wolford also wants to share his winning strategy as a pro quarterback to help high school QBs elevate their game. Wolford and Gormely have also been working on a app, kinetex.co, which delves into the methodology and work ethic that young callers must adhere to. Along with becoming a better pitcher, Wolford explains the need to keep evolving in order to deliver value, work to avoid those fixable mistakes, and most importantly, enjoy the grind in order to enjoy the inevitable success that comes with it.
“Quarterbacks are a different breed,” Wolford says. “You have much more unique requirements than, say, a linebacker, I would tell young quarterbacks to constantly think about how you train, and keep pushing yourself. It’s kind of like what David Goggins preaches: keep working and learn to appreciate the work itself, and you’ll find that the results aren’t always as important as the work you do.
John Wolford’s winning strategy
1. Excel in your role
I don’t know if people realize that as a backup quarterback, we don’t take reps during the week. We lead the scout team against the only defense. But these are not our parts. I don’t know if there’s a misconception that we take a few reps in preparation, so you really have to focus on the mental side in order to be ready to play and execute all the pieces we run.
So the most important structure is that the backup can get reps against the defense, and practice and play against the defense. Even if we don’t run our own games. Just this process of playing against a good defense will then in turn result in the D being a bit more ready to play on Sunday. And then you have to do your own homework on our game plan.
For this, I have an earpiece in my helmet. You will see me going back and forth on the sideline. I would like to be behind the quarterback if I can. So if we’re on the 20, then I’m usually back here on that part of the segment. And I hear the game calls and I call the games for myself. So it’s like I’m in the huddle right now what I’m doing and then the ball slamming, and then I’m standing behind them like, okay, we could post or we’d be watching here, here’s this which I would do and just the best I can mentally take the rep while Matt is playing there. So that’s my process and I feel like it keeps me mentally in the game.
2. John Wolford finds ways to provide value
My agent told me, based on his experiences with undrafted free agents, that there is always a fair amount of paranoia about your job security. I don’t know if that’s the best advice or if I would recommend it to other people, but it’s something I’m fully aware of. You’re always proving yourself, you’re always competing, and you never know what they’re going to do in the front office. So how do you provide value was kind of what I took away from that conversation. And that’s something I think about. I don’t play much at the moment. How can I help the Offensive Coordinator? How can I help the team in any way? So there is this good dose of paranoia. So I’m still an unproven commodity – I’ve played a few games. I played well in those games, but it’s such a small sample that the jury is still out. So just for me and my long-term career, providing value is something I’m looking for.
There are so many things that come into play. Honestly, I would tell others to push yourself, to work hard. Have an open mind and always try to find new ways to improve. And when you’re tired and don’t feel like doing something, just have the discipline to stick to your schedule and stick to it. Keep making extra wins every day. If you do this, you will have no regrets. And you did the best you could.
3. Find your margin of error and eliminate it
There are so many variables in this sport. You’d like to think I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice, trying to force a bullet through a window. But when you’re making a decision in two seconds, sometimes that’s easier said than done.
I turned the ball around pretty early in my football days, including my first two years in college. It’s just an understanding of winning football is winning the turnover margin, isn’t it? This is the second differentiating factor between winning and losing games, behind points, of course. And that’s true in the NFL and in college. So just understanding that, it’s like the biggest advantage is always being aggressive, but there’s a fine line. Everyone always talks about it, but like, we have to win the turnover margin and more often than not, we’re going to win the game.
So as a quarterback, be aggressive, but don’t be overly aggressive. And so I’m still aware of that.
John Wolford is still preparing for a leading role
I wouldn’t go so far as to call the backup quarterback the most unique position, but it’s one of the most unique positions in terms of requirements. You need to know the whole offense like the back of your hand, including the game plan. And with no reps, that can be difficult.
The first team offense is running all plays this week – backups will not get any rep. So you have to do your best to take mental rehearsals and do some extra work on the side, just from a mental standpoint, to prepare.
Then on the field, it’s very interesting because it’s not like being in a bullpen, like a relief pitcher.
For us, it’s going out on the pitch, there’s not a lot of warm-up. So, like, the game is fast. And in situations where you don’t get the whole week of prep and just get caught off guard, this is definitely one of the more unique roles.
From a backup quarterback’s perspective, I’m just trying to get as many extra reps in my head as possible. Obviously, after practice, I’m going to throw in some extra work on some masking of the receivers.
One of the things I do that’s kind of unique is I’m going to take these voice memos. I will record our roadmap, which is quite comprehensive, and I will write all the pieces. And then on all my car trips – it’s about a 25 minute ride – I’ll basically have this voice memo recording. So basically it’s like hearing the game in caucus. So I call the game, like [if I was] hear Sean [McVay] tell me in caucus. Then I think what game are we running here, because we usually call multiple games with each click so I can kill the game or games. So that’s what the defense seems to be anticipating, what’s my read where I’m trying to get the ball, and calling it like I’m in huddle – south, right pincer three, throw, yada, yada, yada – and basically go through this process. So for me, that’s what I do, it’s just steal reps as many ways as I can.
Share your winning moments
Winning the Super Bowl was amazing. We had a great team, I have a ton of respect for everyone in our organization. And working with Matthew every day, seeing what he went through in Detroit all the injuries and winning that first Super Bowl year. I just have a ton of respect for him and was really excited for him.
It’s an incredible experience. I got my family down, snuck them in with my best friends on the pitch afterwards. I only have one or two passes on the field per player, so I was begging the security guards to let them on the field. It was just a surreal experience. I hugged my brother and I will never forget him because we played football in our living room when I was 5. And then you go to the Super Bowl and we’re both on the court, which is pretty cool.
Think about all the steps that got me there, all the hard work, and all the people who helped me along the way.
There is a brevity in life. We only have so many years, nothing is guaranteed. We don’t know what comes next or for sure. And so I remember this. Something I write is like, OK, enjoy this time, enjoy the grind, enjoy the struggle, enjoy your work.
But then what matters most to me. It’s like relationships, right? The people I care about the most are family friends, right? All the people who mean the most to me. So when I’m in those moments, and when I’m relaxing, worried about football, whatever, whatever, just enjoy the moment. And that’s something I try to live.