Eight months after trading for Nick Foles, the Rams are back to where they started: In search of a quarterback.
The Foles-for-Sam Bradford swap looked good in March and I still like the move despite what’s transpired over the past 10 weeks.
The Rams needed to remove themselves of Bradford’s injury concerns (He’s hurt again, by the way.) and get out from under his massive contract.
So, Philadelphia traded Bradford to Chip Kelly, who was more than willing to part with not only Foles, but also draft-pick compensation to acquire Bradford.
At the time, many questioned why Kelly would be so willing to part with Foles in exchange for a quarterback coming off two ACL surgeries who stood to make nearly $13 million in 2015. It was a good question then and it’s a good question now, but I still don’t criticize the trade. Take Bradford off the Eagles and put him under center for the Rams this year and you still have the same issue: You need a quarterback.
Therein lies the big-picture problem.
Jeff Fisher has benched Foles in favor of Case Keenum, a necessity with Foles operating one of the least efficient passing games in football.
The Rams QB is completing just 56.6-percent of his passes, has thrown for 200 or more yards only twice in nine games, and is completing passes at a 6.56 yards-per-average clip.
But Keenum doesn’t offer any long-term solution. He’s an underrated athlete that plays with moxie, but he’s struggled with accuracy at the NFL level and has had issues with his decision-making in Houston (The Texans, not the University, where he became the NCAA’s all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions.).
Keenum also isn’t going to solve the Rams’ problems in pass protection (The team lost two more offensive linemen on Sunday.), nor is he going to magically turn this group of receivers into the second-coming of Isaac, Torry, and Az.
With the Rams on the verge of putting together another 7-9 season, they won’t be in position to draft a top-10 quarterback in April.
For every Russell Wilson, Andy Dalton, and Derek Carr found in the middle rounds, there’s a Geno Smith, Jimmy Clausen, Mike Glennon, or Ryan Mallett that doesn’t work. So yes, the Rams could find a quarterback in the second or third round, but it’s still a crapshoot. Plus, the team already invested a third-round pick in Sean Mannion last year, so chances are they won’t be in a hurry to select a quarterback.
Free agency and the trade market is a roll of the dice as well when it comes to addressing the quarterback position, as the Rams found out this past offseason. The hope in March was that Foles would offer the team a long-term answer under center, but the reality is that the Rams find themselves back at square one.
For the time being, the best-case scenario is that Keenum does what Foles couldn’t: Process plays and defenses quicker, see the field better, be more accurate in the quick and intermediate passing game, and provide more functional athleticism when a play breaks down. In more general terms, don’t waste the efforts of Todd Gurley and the defense by consistently failing to move the chains.
But that’s just for the short-term. The long-term view at quarterback is more uncertain, which is all too familiar for this team.