Making the Case for Austin Davis

Without fail, the backup quarterback is once again the most popular player in many cities following Week 4 in the NFL.

In New York, chants of “We Want (Michael) Vick” rang out in MetLife Stadium after Geno Smith threw away another game, then hurled F-bombs at fans as he made his way into the tunnel following a 24-17 loss to the Lions.

In Tampa, the media is once again ready to crown Mike Glennon the future after he led the Bucs to a shocking win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

austin davis
Austin Davis

And in Buffalo, Kyle Orton has already been called upon to replace E.J. Manuel, who was benched following another dreadful performance in a loss to the Texans.

Here in St. Louis, intrigue still surrounds the backup quarterback. Or is it the backup to the backup? Who knows.

The Rams will travel to Philadelphia this weekend to play a pissed-off Eagles team that will be looking to right the ship after a disastrous outing in San Francisco on Sunday.

It would have been nice for the Rams to catch the Eagles sleepwalking, coming off yet another narrow victory.

Rather, they’ll see a team that should have all the focus and determination of a Rottweiler playing tug-of-war with a bone.

Regardless of how the Eagles respond to their frustrating 26-21 loss to the Niners, Austin Davis needs to be the starting quarterback for the Rams on Sunday. He needs to be the starter next Monday night when the Rams host those same 49ers, too. And also in Week 7 when the Rams host the Seahawks, and when they travel to Kansas City, San Francisco and Arizona from Week 8 through Week 10.

Frustrated Jets fans need to realize that Vick isn’t the answer. Sure, he may win a few games in the short term and thus make fans feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But that feeling won’t last. Vick will get hurt at some point, and then Rex Ryan would sheepishly have to turn back to Smith, who at that point would know that his team doesn’t believe in him. For better or worse, the Jets need to find out what they have in Smith so that they can make an educated decision on the quarterback position for 2015 and beyond.

shaun hill
Shaun Hill

It’s no different in St. Louis. The Rams know what they have in Shaun Hill. He’s not the future. He’s not a long-term answer. He’s a 34-year-old journeyman who can step in and manage games. Those types of players certainly have a place in the NFL, but not for teams like the Rams that face uncertainty at the quarterback position.

Davis has completed 72.3 percent of his passes for 754 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions to go along with a 93.1 QB rating this year. He’s won once on the road, should have won two weeks ago against the Cowboys at home, and has yet to face a defense with even a decent pass rush to this point.

That last part about the pass rush isn’t to negate what Davis has accomplished the past two weeks. On the contrary: I want to see more of Davis.

I want to see how he handles a pass rush like San Francisco is capable of having, or how he fares against a defense like Pete Carroll’s in Seattle. I want to see how he handles playing in a hostile environment like Philadelphia, Seattle and Kansas City. I want to see him fail and then watch as he responds. I want to see his ceiling.

When Sam Bradford re-tore his ACL in preseason, I said that Davis wasn’t the answer. I was wrong. I was wrong because I didn’t know whether he was or not. How could anyone? And if he doesn’t play, how does Jeff Fisher or Les Snead know whether he is or isn’t a viable long-term solution?

Whether or not Hill can manage games is a question that isn’t worth answering. It doesn’t matter in the long-term. What the Rams need to avoid is trying to answer whether or not Davis can play next February, especially seeing as how they can find out over these next three months.

The Rams know about Hill. It’s time to find out about Davis.

More: Austin Davis on First NFL Start