One of the most hot-button topics throughout the 2016 NFL offseason surrounded the Los Angeles Rams and rookie quarterback Jared Goff. While Rams head coach Jeff Fisher almost immediately named Case Keenum the starter, the time has come where keeping Goff on the bench would officially be the wrong move. Even fresh off a four-interception performance during the 17-10 loss to the New York Giants, though, Fisher seems intent on making the wrong decision and rolling with Keenum after the Week 8 bye.
“The quarterback’s not the reason, by the way, that we lost three games,” Fisher said in his opening statement from London, after the Rams fell to 3-4 heading into their bye week. “I’m staying with Case. He had a couple of tips and things like that today, not necessarily his fault, and then Brian [Quick] didn’t get the audible adjustment at the end.”
First, there’s no denying that part of the blame goes to the Rams coaching staff. Keenum should never be in a situation where he’s throwing the ball 53 times in a game. That number is the most in a single game during his entire career. While that’s a whole different argument, the fact remains that the Rams are sliding and doing so in a bad way. They’ve lost three games in a row, and one of those games was Keenum’s best of the year.
During the 31-28 loss to the Detroit Lions, Keenum completed 84.4 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and a game-ending interception. Aside from that game, Keenum has just one other strong start (during the 17-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals) and taking those two games out of the equation, the 28-year-old QB has thrown just three touchdowns against nine interceptions.
While Keenum has obviously struggled, and Fisher even admitted that Goff would get first-team practice reps, per Myles Simmons of the team’s official website, he remains adamant that nothing is changing.
“Jared’s going to get some reps, which is a by product of the bye week,” Fisher said. “I don’t feel like Case needs the reps Wednesday and early next week, so Jared will get those reps, which is good.”
It’s a bad situation right now in Los Angeles, as we’ve seen the Rams go from 3-1 and in first place in the NFC West, to 3-4 and in third place, ahead of only the 1-6 San Francisco 49ers. The question is, why is Fisher remaining so loyal to Keenum, who’s set to become a free agent after the season? The only understandable answer is that Fisher still believes the veteran gives the Rams the best chance to win and is the guy who can get (or keep) them in the playoff race.
Unfortunately, that’s tough to argue at this point. Keenum’s play was enough to keep them in the game against the Lions, but his late-game interception wound up costing them a chance to win. Putting that aside he played a great game, but the final play is what most will remember. Then, seeing Keenum struggle with a 50.1 quarterback rating with four interceptions in London was just the icing on the cake.
The Rams aren’t going to win games strictly because of Keenum’s play, but we’ve seen them lose games because of it. So in turn, it’s time to roll out the rookie and see if he can do as good of a job managing the game as Keenum can. One thing that we do know is that Goff has a big arm and can air it out so that alone may be enough to open up the field for Todd Gurley and the running game.