Fisher grasping straws with move from Foles to Keenum

Maybe Nick Foles and Sam Bradford can lean on each other for support.

Swapping starting quarterbacks in the NFL is as rare as it gets for some pretty simple reasons, namely it’s really difficult to find signal callers in this league so the perfect storm of a pair of teams ready to give up on their particular starters while also possessing the hubris to believe they can repair the others failings is like a lightning strike.

That scenario unfolded in both St. Louis and Philadelphia this offseason, however, as the Rams shipped their former No. 1 overall bust, Bradford, east for a lesser skill set in Nick Foles and a second-round pick.

When we hit Week 11 this weekend neither player will be starting for their new teams as the oft-injured Bradford is on the shelf in Philly with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder as well as a concussion, and Foles was benched by Rams coach Jeff Fisher for ineffectiveness, an ignominy worsened by the fact that the guy replacing him is Case Keenum.

In an almost laughable spin Rams coach Jeff Fisher said he expects the limited Keenum will provide an “offensive spark” for his moribund offense.

With little talent at his disposal outside the numbers, Foles has completed just 56.6 percent of his passes this season, with seven touchdowns and six interceptions and his His 75.9 passer rating is the third-lowest mark among the league’s starting quarterbacks, with only descending five-time MVP Peyton Manning and the surprisingly ineffective Andrew Luck putting up lesser numbers.

28 December 2014: Texans QB Case Keenum during 23 - 17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX.

Is Keenum the answer for the Rams? John Rivera/Icon Sportswire

You might even want to call Foles’ production Keenum-like numbers because the new St. Louis starter has completed 55.2 percent of his passes and amassed a similar 76.8 rating over his prior 10 NFL starts, all with Houston.

The one thing Keenum does bring to the table that Foles doesn’t, however, is a bit of functional mobility to make some things happen with his legs.

“I need more production and it starts with (the quarterback) position,” Fisher said. “As I told Case, he doesn’t have a short leash. We’re going to let him play. We’re going to use his legs and let him make some plays.”

Considering Keenum’s ceiling as a player and the fact Foles was 14-4 as a starter with the Eagles and once threw 27 touchdown passes versus two interceptions in this league, it’s probably a poor decision to make this move especially when you consider Fisher told reporters on Monday he expects Foles will be back in the lineup at some point.

“Nick also understands that he eventually will be under center for us again,” Fisher said. “But this is my decision based on what I think is best for this team offensively is to go this direction.”

Sounds like a head coach who realizes he doesn’t have enough talent of offense and needs a QB who can make something out of nothing at times with some sandlot football. And that is grasping at straws because Keenum isn’t exactly Cam Newton or Russell Wilson.

“I’m not saying this is week-to-week, but this is what’s best right now for our team as we move forward from a production standpoint offensively,” Fisher said. “They all need to play better. The receivers need to play better. The tight ends need to play better. (Offensive tackle) Greg Robinson needs to play better. They all need to play better.

“Nick didn’t fumble the ball on the 17-yard line (against Chicago last Sunday), nor did he give up two explosive plays for over 80 yards. It’s not his fault. We all need to play better. But I’m confident that right now this is the right decision for us as we move forward.”

If it’s not the quarterback’s fault, then why is Foles getting replaced?

And why are you risking shattering the QB’s confidence if you expect him back in the lineup?

The answers given are nothing more than lip service and Fisher understands that the 2016 Rams quarterback, at least if he has a say in the actual decision, is not yet on the roster despite the moderate extension Foles got before this campaign started.

The original trade, though, was by no means a loser for St. Louis because of that second-round pick that Chip Kelly foolishly sent along with Foles to the Show Me State.

“By no means do we regret the trade,” Fisher said. “By no means do we regret the extension. Nick is a good quarterback. He’s captain of this football team. But at this point right now, based on where we are offensively, I feel this is the direction we have to go.”

— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at jmcmullen@phanaticmag.com or on Twitter @jfmcmullen. Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for The Sports Bash on ESPN South Jersey.

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