Forget the location of the Rams games in 2015 and beyond. Let’s talk about the quarterback position. Who plays this spot after this year? Another year where three different quarterbacks are slotted in as the lead arm and neither of them impress or survive long enough to make us ponder their contract situation? The Rams are mind boggling and inconsistent, but the biggest leak exists at quarterback. In this day and age, in this game, a solid quarterback is needed. You can be a ball moving runner like Russell Wilson, a management guy like Joe Flacco or Alex Smith or you can be a gunner like Peyton Manning. If you want to make it to the playoffs or the Super Bowl, a team must have confidence in their quarterback. The Rams don’t have it on the field right now and may not have it on their roster at all. It’s a depressing state to be in for so many seasons, especially after the drafting of Sam Bradford in 2010.
How about Sam? Is he a guy you bring back in 2015 for the last year of his pre-rookie scale outrageous contract? He will make around 16.5 million in 2015 if he does play here. In his five seasons as a St. Louis Ram, he has played in a total of 49 games…out of a possible 80. That’s just bad. When healthy, Bradford can lead this team to victories. He put together a strong rookie season but truly excelled in the second half of Jeff Fisher’s first season as Rams head coach. He was dynamite in the red zone and carried that over into the 2013 season with a first half that included 14 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. When healthy, Bradford has the ability to make smart decisions and can win a game or two. He simply can’t stay healthy. His knee has went through two surgeries and he will carry the label of injury prone quarterback around for the rest of his career. He is a risk and someone it would be hard to bank on staying healthy for 16 games. If Fisher extended his time here, he may ask for the Rams to keep Sam for another year. Possibly restructure the salary and add another year. I am not 100 percent confident Bradford can do it, even with the freak injuries.
Shaun Hill isn’t the answer. Sure, he quarterbacked the Broncos game well, made a few good throws early and didn’t make mistakes, but his Sunday performance was awful. He had two fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown. He threw a pair of interceptions, one at the goal line with less than a minute left. The goal line INT was a bad play call, but Hill has to recognize the lurking Charger creeping across the field. That was a dangerous throw. When in doubt, make another decision. Great quarterbacks can do that. Hill did not. Looking at his half in the season opener and his two full games, I don’t see much there in Hill. He’s a backup.
Austin Davis brought an excitement to a team that was dull and bland. He helped win two of the four Rams wins. He didn’t face quality opponents but still didn’t play bad for a guy making his first batch of starts in the NFL. He was thrilling for 3-4 games and then the seams came undone. He started throwing interceptions, which a few were returned for touchdowns. He held onto the ball too long. His release time got worse. The better defenses put a hurt on him because he second guessed a lot. David may not be able to rise above the backup label but he did provide the team with a spark. That spark, unfortunately, died out. He is not the answer.
Who is? I wish I could tell you. The 2015 draft class isn’t strong, especially for teams in the middle or lower part of the round. Free agency is there but the options aren’t great. Another team isn’t going to hand the Rams a future quarterback. Les Snead will have to be crafty in his search and if Fisher sticks around, the two men have to draft a quarterback higher than round 4. When they failed to do so in this past draft, they left the team highly vulnerable. 2015 has to feature a new arm back there, either backing up Bradford or taking over the reins. The Rams don’t need Peyton’s stunt double. They do need a guy who can stay healthy and occasionally win a game. The defense is strong, the running game is evolving and the quarterback spot simply has to limit the damage in order for this team to rack up some wins. The schedule hasn’t been easy in 2014 and this bunch has won 4 games somehow.
In 2015, there has to be hope back there in the quarterback slot for the St. Louis Rams. Bradford isn’t a poor option, but a mere hypothetical for a Rams team running out of time. Can he stay healthy? If not him, who steps in? There are no easy answers here. Welcome to the St. Louis Rams corner of misery. Fans and writers should be used to it by now.
When exactly does an individual hope run out?
Finding a legit long term answer at quarterback would help the hope in St. Louis for the Rams immensely.
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