NFL

Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher’s Handling of Quarterbacks Is Questionable At Best

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Jared Goff must be awful.

That’s the only thing that makes sense. How could there be another explanation for Goff not dressing for Monday night’s game and then the Los Angeles Rams sticking with Case Keenum after he looked awful in the 28-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers?

Well, there is one other possibility.

Jeff Fisher is an awful judge of quarterback talent.

It’s possible that both things are true, since this isn’t a “zero sum” game.

You really do have to wonder about Fisher when he decides that 17-of-35 for 130 yards and two interceptions is worthy of a second start. We can’t even point to a great Niners defense as the cause of Keenam’s issues, as we have no idea if the Niners defense was great or the Rams quarterback was awful.

Maybe it was both, but watching Keenum makes you lean towards him being the bigger issue. He had no pocket presence, very little patience, zero accuracy and no touch. His passes sailed high, were too long, too late and just flat out bad for much of the evening.

Even with giving him a little leeway because the offensive line looked bad, Keenum still was terrible.

Every throw was an event because you just didn’t know what was going to happen. Perhaps that was intentional—after all, the Rams are in Los Angeles, home of the film industry, and exciting twists you don’t see coming.

It’s not just baffling to media. Personnel across the league seem confused by the decision, one position coach saying to me, “Why draft (Goff) and put up with that?”

If we go back to Goff’s preseason games, he looks exactly like you would expect. He’s a rookie and he makes rookie mistakes, but he looked no worse than Keenum did on Monday night—one might argue that his arm strength and velocity looked better than what the Rams’ starter could muster.

What’s even more stunning is Goff is behind Sean Mannion. There’s no logic to this—and in fact, it hurts Goff’s development because you know he is getting no snaps as the third-string quarterback.

Which brings us back to Fisher, and his inability to mold a quarterback.

Fisher hasn’t had a decent quarterback since the then-Houston Oilers drafted Steve McNair. In 1995.

Marinate in that for a second, if you will. Fisher was involved in drafting McNair—who admittedly had a very nice career under Fisher—and has never had another successful quarterback. Vince Young and Sam Bradford both have had issues of their own making (particularly Young) but Fisher couldn’t find a way to make them work. He failed also with Kerry Collins, Kellen Clemens and Nick Foles.

Maybe you can say he didn’t have good quarterbacks to work with, but other coaches have managed to make both Bradford and Foles look very good.

Not shockingly, Fisher has not been above .500 in six years. In fact, he has just six seasons of better than .500 records in 21 years.

This is a guy who might get an extension in the near future, though that seems to have stalled.

If you’re looking for some sort of common thread here, though, Fisher is it. He’s a guy who has managed to skate from job to job despite being uniquely awful at it. Other coaches are lucky they get three bad years before getting the heave-ho. Fisher is on year five with the Rams and the team has steadily gotten worse but they’re talking extension.

There’s no reason to start anyone but Goff unless the former Cal quarterback is hurt or historically bad. If the answer is the latter, you have a problem with your evaluation and just spent a whole bunch of picks on a bad quarterback. If that isn’t the case, and he’s not hurt, you are just wasting time and energy to not develop the guy who you traded a whole bunch of picks to get.

Either way, it’s an awful optic for Fisher and the Los Angeles Rams.


About Andrew Garda

Andrew Garda is a freelance writer primarily covering NFL football, with frequent side trips to everything else. A member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he is a contributing writer for Sports on Earth and Pro Football Weekly. He also covers fantasy for Footballguys.com. Garda is the host of the At the Whistle podcast and has been credentialed for many NFL drafts, Senior Bowls, pro days and various NFL events.